The Things We Don’t Know (within our own Church)

One of the people I’ve been blessed to have in my life is Ariah Fine.  He is continually thinking, challenging, and loving.  Ariah loves to deconstruct (as I do) and – one of the reasons I love him and reading his thoughts so much – is that he very often comes to difference conclusions than I do.  He’s a brilliant mind and an activist in ways that I could never be.

However, we as humanity are not omniscient and hardly ever know all of the factors in play for any situation we’re involved in.  Whether it be an inappropriate joke because we don’t understand the connotations, a curse word being repeated by a child, or judgement on inaction when we don’t know the histories of the people involved, we often – by very design of humanity, perhaps – bring our own expectations, biases and needs into any given situation.

Ariah recently posted a blog post about whose role is is to take care of the poor and homeless.  I encourage you to read it, as Ariah has great ideas that may entice (or detract) you from the cause of helping the homeless and poor.

But this post is about how we as humanity simply don’t know everything.  In Ariah’s post he mentions that Mosaic, while he was here, had one homeless man as a part of our community while he was here.  Unfortunately, that’s not entirely true.  During the time Ariah was attending our community, I can distinctly remember at least four individuals struggling financially who entered into our church life.  One lived with one of mine and Ashley’s friends for a while.  Another would regularly meet up with me and the guys on Thursday night when we would eat out, and we’d buy his food.

The point of this is that Ariah was, without question, the most involved in helping and empowering the homeless and poor in the Nashville area from our church.  But while he was involved with the life of our 100-or-less person church, he apparently only ventured into the life of one of the four poor/homeless/financially challenged people who flowed in (and out) of the life of our church while he was here (we’ve had a few others since Ariah’s left).  This isn’t to say Ariah messed up or missed out… it’s that even in the area he is passionate (and rightly so) about, there was more going on than one man could keep up with.

All that to say… how Ariah and I “empowered” or “took care” or “loved” the poor/homeless is simply different.  He might say his way – working to politically change things, preparing lunches – is better.  I might say my way – getting to know them inside the context of the church, eating a meal with them – is better.  But we’d both be wrong.

The fact of the matter is that both need to happen.  And more.

That’s the beauty of the church; we don’t need to know.  The things we don’t know are what makes us so strong and precious.

Ariah was a part of our community… and so the things he did were things that the church did.  When you’re as small as Mosaic is/was, then everything that its members do are symbolic of the things that the church is about.  The things that flow out naturally from the body become the passions of the church.  If it was forced from the pastor, it wouldn’t work.

I love the fact that I don’t know everyone’s pains and everyone’s joys.  It makes for deeper relationships when I discover them.  It means that I can give grace – or be given grace – when someone messes up, or doesn’t see eye-to-eye.

I love Ariah, and people like him.  The church needs people like him just as much – if not more – than it needs technologists like me.  But we need to learn to support one another’s passions and gifts and perspectives so that we are a more flavored church, rather than simply isolating things to that which the Holy Spirit has sent our way.

It is clear the the Spirit has given Ariah a gift to seek the homeless and poor.  But the church also needs people whom the Spirit has given a passion for international immigrants, public safety concerns, understand laws to keep the church out of legal issues, web designers to help embrace church home seekers who are surfing the web, and men who are willing to play with children so our kids can see examples of stable, Godly men.  Just to name a few.

And we’ll never always know what is happening in all those ministries in our home churches… because they aren’t our passion.  But, hopefully, the body can support each other and understand that God has gifted us in different areas with different passions because we are meant to be a body, not simply an arm… no matter how important that arm might be. 

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One Response to “The Things We Don’t Know (within our own Church)”

  1. Aaron,

    First of all, I appreciate you reading my thoughts and sharing your own, I love that this can be an opportunity for dialog. I’m only disappointed it didn’t happen sooner.
    Really, your post was/is a huge encouragement to me about what is happening in the life of Mosaic. Gary would often reference, albeit vaguely, the many people in the community that were doing sacrificial acts, and building relationships that were not known by the larger body. I trusted him on this and it’s simply encouraging to hear you give more details.

    At the same time, my mention of Mosaic in my post was not intended at as a critique of “getting to know them inside the context of the church, eating a meal with them”. I think those are brilliant ways to connect with people. In fact, that’s what we attempted to do on Sunday afternoons was get to know people and eat a meal with them. I don’t think one is better then the other, they both sound like quite the same thing, I simply wanted to encourage people to do it at the Veteran’s Memorial, rather than Fiesta Azteca.
    This was not the point of the post, but I think the hardest part of attending Mosaic is that I never really felt a part of the community, never encouraged, or needed, like you stated above. If anything I felt like I was constantly met with tension anytime I tried to explore a new activity.

    Your encouragement and words above are extremely touching to me. I was completely unaware that you felt that way or that any of my ‘passion’ was apparent in my attendance at Mosaic.
    Yet, I want to clarify, that I don’t think it’s some unique spirit or gift of mine to “seek the homeless and poor.” I don’t feel any special calling toward that whatsoever quite honestly. I just can’t push from my mind how often Jesus talks to the poor, interacts with the poor, announce God’s blessing is on the poor. I’m all about immigrants, public safety, legality, websites, and playing with children, I don’t think you have to choose one or the other.
    Keep doing what your doing, I’m sure you preached a great sermon the other day, I only wish I could download a podcast of it. And yes, I do appreciate the encouragement and I take your kind words deeply to heart. But I beg, don’t, please don’t write me off as having some unique gift or passion towards the poor, it is anything but.

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