In-Sight: Arise! (#2)

Last week’s post (Arise #1) encouraged us to see Jesus’ resurrection as the ignition of an ongoing uprising. It is an uprising that occurs in all sorts of ways–what Paul referred to comprehensively as a “new creation” (2Corinthians 5:17).  This uprising is not something we merely observe and affirm, it is something we are called to participate in.  Today, I want to offer three ways we can do this.

First, spend your time developing your position rather than criticizing someone else’s.  This makes us advocates rather than adversaries.  Of course, people will disagree with us, but our participation in God’s uprising should not be consumed in being a counter-point to someone else’s view.  Be proactive and constructive, not reactive and deconstructive.  If you really think your position is better, commend it by building it up, not tearing another position down.

In social media, this negative deconstructionism happens to an alarming degree.  I rarely read the “Comment” sections of Facebook posts, because people use them way too often to do little other than find fault.  Do not do this.  Instead, use your own media outlets to communicate your view, rather than piggy-backing on someone else’s.   Be a message, not a footnote.

Second, be a Kingdom-banquet person.  Invite everyone to feast on your point of view.  As in the parable, some will turn down the invitation. But rather than lament their refusal, go out to the highways and hedgerows (as Jesus said) and invite others to come. 

Be inclusive, not sectarian.  Some whom you hoped would show up will not, but you will find a host of others who will come and dine.  If your position is credible, it will attract others just as a magnet draws iron filings.  Like the sower in Jesus’ parable, do not predict or attempt to control in advance who gets the seed.  Sling seed all over the place, and you will get a harvest somewhere.

Third, align your heart and your treasure, or as the old phrase says, “put your money where your mouth is.”  Use your stewardship of time, talent, and treasure to advance what you believe in.

Sign up.  Join in.  Donate.  Find reputable groups to support.  Weave your single voice into the tapestry of a larger voice.  Be a visible member of a community that advocates your position beyond your own locale.

Fourth, seek for the fruit of the Spirit to characterize your involvement.  There will be some occasions when a clear and courageous stance is necessary.  But no stance should make us bitter, and surely not hateful.  The essence of Christlikeness has been described throughout church history  by the fruit of the Spirit.  As the commercial says, “don’t leave home without it.”

Finally, trust God for the outcome.  Like Moses, the best we can often do is only look over into the promised land, but not enter it.  Like the writer of Hebrews, we do not see everything in subjection to Christ.  Be content to show up and speak out, going as far as you can–realizing it will likely not be all the way to the end.  Transformation is usually trans-generational.  We are to be faithful in this generation,  and hand off what remains to those who come after us.

On his final night on the earth, Martin Luther King Jr. used this analogy to declare that even though he might not get to the goals espoused by the civil-rights’ movement, he had been to the mountain top, and everything else was secondary to that experience.  He went as far as he could, trusting the goodness of the cause would be embraced by those who outlived him.

Arise!  It is God’s call.  And while it certainly includes the ministry of encouraging others, it goes beyond that to include our own engagement.  It moves beyond support to showing up.  It means incarnating the apostolic spirit that says, “We cannot keep from telling you what we have seen heard.”  It is that personal involvement which turns a resurrection into an uprising.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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