On the question of what’s risky and what’s safe, Kathy from Creating Passionate Users posts a great picture out of the Colorado Daily in Boulder:
While the guy in red was rock climbing (risky), his parked car (safe) was demolished by a massive piece of mountain.
It’s a great reminder for us not to settle into what’s "safe", no matter what our work involves. It’s so easy to do, because it feels… well, safe. But safe is risky, because you can become irrelevant pretty quickly nowadays if you’re trying to just stick to the rules and do what’s worked in the past. Good decisions are going to be increasingly counter-intuitive, at least to those who are still trying to abide by conventional wisdom. But things are getting turned upside-down and inside-out; weird is normal, foolish is wise, the first are the last. But then again, sometimes weird really is just weird, foolish isn’t always wise; sometimes it’s just stupid. Confusing, isn’t it? I guess there aren’t any formulas to help us out here. Maybe that’s a good thing.
Seth Godin says safe is risky. I agree with him, but I say risky is risky, too. (There’s nothing inherently "safe" about rock climbing, right?) Risking doesn’t guarantee success. But you risk eithe way, so you might as well do something audacious and world-changing.
I’ve been thinking about this issue for a few days now…since you first posted about it. At first I was thinking “hey,I’ve seen lots of churches do risky things…attend a Vineyard for 15 years and you learn faith is spelled R*I*S*k, right?”
So I wasn’t really tracking with you (which isn’t surprising given the few brain cells I have left from trying to raise teenagers and toddlers at the same time, oy). But as I pondered this further, it seemed to address something deeper for me. IME, risky no longer gets equated with what I do or say in christian circles, or even to ‘evangelizing’ outside the church. Risky for my family has been leaving church altogether for awhile to get in touch with the rest of the world. Risky is sending your teenage (beautiful) daughter who’s been homeschooled most of her life into an inner city school alone. Risky is driving orphaned teenagers around the city and buying them dinner and taking pictures of them while they perform at school because they don’t have a mother to do it. Risky is making friends with Wiccans and Pagans and Catholics and Jesus Scholars and atheists and (horror of horrors) democrats. Risky is letting your slip show and taking every opportunity to keep your opinions to yourself. Or offering them with a heart to hear another side or experience first. Risky is buying groceries for families that will probably take advantage of you. Risky is doing it again when they do.
Risky for me has been all about what happens while I live my life outside christianopolis and delve into the queer eccentricities, heart-rending atrocities,and anger-filled victims’ hearts….I’ve been amazed to find Jesus there EVERY time. I love not having answers, just compassion. I love ministering to Jesus as I try in my limited way to meet others where they are with no expectations.
I heard someone say that God hears the cry of the oppressed. That God is with the oppressed in that cry. If we want to find God, we must be willing to go where that cry is originating, and not only feed them, but risk the emotional fallout of loving them, befriending them, AND serving them.
To relegate ‘risky’ to what happens inside a church is a moot point, methinks. There’s no need to be risky in a pew. Take a drive downtown to the whore house, the tavern, the mission, that’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s risky to align ourselves with the oppressed because it costs us our pride, makes us face our fear, arrogance, ignorance. (My daughter was asked by her ‘christian’ friends why she talked to the druggies at school…after all she might get a reputation. Kinda like Jesus did.) Church had become way too safe. I was too protected, and too fearful of what was ‘out there’. It made me myopic in my scope and experience, and judgemental of anything outside that box. Now that I’m ‘out there’ I’ve found how extremely shallow my faith was, how shaky the foundation of my faith was, how ‘safe’ I’d played it, and most importantly, why I had begun to feel so alone.
I hope to return to some kind of church setting, to a group of folk who worship Jesus, and do the greater things like ending poverty, being a voice for the voiceless, calling a spade a spade. I’m not looking for the miraculous anymore…I’m looking for genuine connection with God’s created and beloved human race. And there’s quite a lot of them who won’t take the risk to enter a church…I figure I’ll go out and find them. Then we’ll go get a beer or a latte and talk about how life doesn’t make sense, people are mean and selfish, churches are full of hypocrits, the empire needs taken down, you know, the real stuff of life, the reality we all live in and cope with and flounder in. I might even mention Jesus’ name. But probably not. I won’t need to cause he’ll be sitting on the bar stool next to us.
Thanks for posting stuff for my feeble brain cells to fire on. And for allowing comments. :o)
‘I love not having answers, just compassion.’