For the last several years, I have had the privilege of attending the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. This event is always full of outstanding speakers; however, one concept can blend with another and I can find it hard to incorporate them into my journey. This year, I have selected one of the speakers ahead of time, purchased their book, and have studied it in anticipation of trying to build on their ideas throughout the coming year. Based on some previous exposure with International Justice Mission and a good review in Sojourners Magazine, I decided to read Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian, by Gary Haugen.
Gary’s clear challenge is to make a choice to be brave or safe. “Here is one choice that our Father wants us to understand as Christians – and I believe it is the choice of our age. Do we want to be brave or safe? Gently, lovingly – our heavenly Father wants us to know that we simply can’t be both.”
Gary has clearly joined the fight for justice, on behalf of the poor, in an extraordinary way. He explores how we can and should live an extraordinary life by following Jesus and doing the same. While I don’t want to detract from the books main message, I was struck by an underlying message – injustice and our complicity in it. Gary states that, “The sin of injustice is defined in the Bible as the abuse of power – abusing power by taking from others the good things that God intended for them, namely, their life liberty, dignity, or the fruits of their love or their labor.”
I have come to see the world as having a high degree of connectedness. On my journey, I continue to grow a wider understanding of these connections. While I'm a bit dense, our connectedness is is hardly a new revelation as Emerson’s writing supported the connectedness of the natural world and Thoreau’s writings supported the connectedness of the human world.
What Gary reinforced, is why these connections matter from a missional world view. Simply stated, a missional person becomes increasing mindful of how their actions affect others. One’s actions (i.e., investments, purchases, tax payments, consumption) have connected consequences that do not simply disappear into some anonymous corporation or government. Taking an action or simply participating in "the system”, may fund acts that are unjust (sinful) and as the funder I must therefore acknowledge my role as an accomplice. To be missional, I must continually work to be more aware and then take actions (both the bold and the seemingly mundane) that keep me from becoming an accomplice to injustice, while also taking actions to fight for justice.
I can't wait to hear Gary Haugen speak at the summit.