March 16, 2012
Accompaniment, walking together, being in relationship: this is the new model for Christian mission. We are learning that the best way to help people is to be in partnership. Even in Christian mission relationships across different continents, in which the balance of material resources is way out of whack, the church is slowly but surely learning that we should never create relationships of dependence. We have come to understand that every party can have something valuable to offer and that we truly can serve together in partnership, walking in solidarity along the path to Christ-like holiness.
Have you ever found yourself in a relationship which felt like there was no balance of power? One person had all of the resources and the other had all the need? One person had all the answers and the other person’s ideas were never good enough? This is not the kind of relationship God wants us to be in. Think of the story of Jesus walking down the road to Emmaus with the disciples after the resurrection. Jesus just wanted to be with them. I believe that is why Jesus’ identity was not revealed to them until his departure. If they knew it was the resurrected Lord and Savior in their midst, it would have created an entirely different dynamic. Jesus wanted not to be worshiped in that moment, he wanted to be in relationship with equal partners – sharing, talking, being.
God wants that for us too. In two ways: God wants us to be with God in a sharing, caring relationship; AND God wants us to have that kind of mutually beneficial relationship with others. God does not call us to have all the answers. When we feel that we do we condescend to those we think do not. God wants us to understand that every person is created as truly equal to every other. God does not see class or continent, gender or any of the other artificial boundaries that we draw. They simply aren’t real. Those divisions are created by people so that they can feel superior and therefor good enough themselves. The problem is that we exist in this culture in which this mind-set is so widespread that it is hard for us to recognize. The bottom line though is that we must try very hard to treat every human as having something that they can give to us while we give to them. If we do not, every human transaction that we make will be inequitable. We will end up feeling as if all we ever do is give without having received.