Engage: The Journey #1

In chapter one, Brueggemann takes the broad idea of journey and applies it to the common good. Wisely, he shows us that we move into the common good in stages. It is not a state as much as it is an evolution. It is not singular attainment as much as it is a varying reality more present in some places more than others.

He sees it as the journey from faith, into anxiety, and then into neighborliness. The Exodus provides the biblical narrative for this movement, a specific experience of the orientation, disorientation, reorientation pattern we described in the first post (“Journey,” January 31st).

The journey begins with faith that liberation from “the system” is possible. It is the faith we sing in the words, “though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.” [1] Yahweh, not Pharoah is God. Jesus is Lord, not those who lord it over others. In the face of galloping injustice, it takes faith to believe this. We hear the call to leave Egypt while we are in it. We must have faith to believe the call is from God. Prophets are necessary.

The journey includes anxiety because the lure of the known is more powerful at times than the attraction of the unknown. Leaving is hard. Letting go is difficult. Uncertainty is discincerting. Birth is painful. The journey to the common good is filled with formidable challenges. Accepting that as normal is necessary.

The journey requires neighborliness. Life together is the only way to achieve the common good. Without it, egotism creates a new ethnocentrism which creates another “system” of inequality. The basis for neighborliness is love, as Jesus taught. Neighborliness is the disposition of God toward us; it is meant to be our dispisition toward others.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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