Posted by: Dan | February 8, 2007

Prophetic Insecurity

In commenting on Jesus' reference to the scribes and Pharisees as “blind guides” (cf. Mt 23), Stanley Hauerwas makes the following point:

They [the scribes and Pharisees] think their task is to make the life of those they lead secure. Yet a people who depend on prophets can never lead lives of security.

Risk-taking, then, becomes the mark of churches that follow the prophetic tradition, which climaxes in the life and death of Jesus. Churches that abandon their security out of their love for God and God's world are those that are faithfully traveling the road of discipleship. Churches that seek to create a space free of suffering, of challenge, or of risk-taking, are churches that are following blind guides.

I remember when I first began to change my thinking about these things. A few years ago, two of my close friends got married and decided that they wanted to begin to enter into a life that was rooted in the margins of society. So, they began to look for a house in the inner-city of Hamilton — i.e. a neighbourhood known for drug use, prostitution, violence, and poverty. As my friends explored this option, they were surprised to discover that Real Estate agents tried to talk them out of moving into the neighbourhood. One agent told them that the bridge just up the road from the house they were looking at was a place known for sexual assaults. Another agent told them that if they wanted to live in this neighbourhood with some sort of sense of security then they should go out and buy some guns.

This was my friends first step into this sort of lifestyle, and it was a big one. Needless to say, they were a little shaken-up by what they were being told. I remember one of them calling me and asking me for advice. A lot of thoughts flew through my mind as we spoke together. Should I advise the husband of a young, beautiful woman to move into a violent neighbourhood that had a reputation for being a place where sexual assaults occurred? Should I tell him that Christians can't own guns? I mean the risks here are real — I have seen, over and over, the devastation that assault can bring into a person's life. Still, even with these things in mind, I encouraged my friends to make the move into the neighbourhood. Love, I had begun to realize, doesn't always mean removing the crosses from the shoulders of my loved ones. Rather, love is helping to sustain them as they carry that cross. Love means carrying crosses together, not walking away from the cross.

So, I suppose my question is this: What are the risks that you and/or your church are taking? If you are not taking risks, then how do you know you are not following blind guides?

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