Not too long ago my friend L contacted our parish to let them know that she was interested in forming a new small Christian community. But life being what it is, there were other priorities at the parish and as time went by it became clear that things might not happen within the time frame she had in mind. Rather than become irritated, annoyed, or continue to repeat her request (i.e. nag), she contacted some people she thought might be interested then hosted our first meeting. A wonderful group came together. Through her own initiative, she created a supportive group of people with similar values – a group that she wanted to be part of.
This is the challenge of Christianity. This is what we see in the model of Jesus. Jesus never demanded that the religious authorities of his day change to his way of thinking. Neither did he nag them to do things differently. Rather, he created a community of women and men who shared his values and lived out of those values.
When Jesus was confronted by those in authority he stated his values or offered a parable to shock others into a new way of thinking. Everyone was invited to join in – but not pressured or coerced into doing so. Even when his family confronted him – demanding he come with them and accept their way of viewing the world (a patriarchal, tribal worldview), Jesus responded by radically changing their definition of family – “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? These people here with me now are my family!” (Mark 3). Then he went about his life, not expecting or demanding that his genetic family see things his way or change.
Neither did Jesus spend much time with family or religious authorities who didn’t share his values. After all, the best way to resist patriarchy and tribalism is simply not to participate in it. In moving toward a better, healthier way of living, one naturally moves away from ways that are harmful or toxic.
The same path is open to each of us too. We can continue to bemoan the fact that families, corporations, hierarchies or institutions fail to share our values. We can expend much energy pressuring or demanding them to change – or we can simply start living in a different way. We can change. Like my friend L, we can live into a new reality and invite others to join us.
Resurrection: Walk out of the tomb. Walk into a new reality.
“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.”