Monday, October 10, 2011

Hypervigilance

In Gracias! A Latin American Journal, Henri Nouwen told a story of a nun who was visiting in a poor section of Lima, Peru. She had been warned to be very watchful of other people because they would "...grab your money, your purse, and your watch." She was told to "...take your watch off and put it in your purse and hold your purse tight under your arm."

The nun did exactly as she was instructed. While riding on a crowded bus, she had to keep a tight hold on the handle to keep her balance. As she was jostled, she noticed her watch on the arm of a young man next to her. As the story goes, she very aggressively took the watch away from the man, only to later find her watch still in her purse. She had stolen an identical watch from the young man on the bus! Her paranoia had caused her to rob an innocent person.

How much of the time are Christians like this nun. We've been told that we need to watch out for those ___________________ (just fill in the blank), because they will ________________. They are either a threat to Christianity, to our way of life, or whatever else you can think of. We go through our days afraid, afraid of being corrupted or hurt by others. We have done a good job through the years of holding our life tight and hiding things away to keep them from being "stolen." In the end, we end up being the thieves.

When we hide the Source of our life away by separating ourselves, or by loudly proclaiming our opposition to the bogeyman of the day, we rob others of the message that there is a God who is a God of grace, who has become one of us so we can be like him, and who is redeeming this world and will put all things right. We rob them of the love that Jesus told us to show to all we come in contact with. We rob them of the opportunity to see people who have been transformed by God's love and grace, people who are truly different. Like the nun, we steal from others, and then find out later that they really weren't out to get us.

Jesus gave us the commission to go. We are called to be in this world. Jesus gave us the example when he ate and drank with sinners, so much so that the religious leaders called him a glutton and a drunk. Doesn't exactly sound like one who was being careful to not associate with the wrong crowd, does it? One of the big differences I see between the church of the first century and the church of today is the church today seems to more known for what it is against, and the early church was know for their love for each other and for those around them.

May we hold our lives more loosely, and freely share the treasure that we have been given.

2 comments:

AmyW said...

I've been participating in a lively conversation with a few facebook friends this morning. What started as a discussion about health care has morphed into a discussion on the church's role. I asked the following:

"Sincere question....How do you think the early church handled people "taking advantage of them?" Do you think the early church turned people away? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Perhaps I'm being critical, but I fear the modern day church would end up with a committee or panel that would judge "needs". Is the need legit? How often has this family requested help? At what point do we tell them "no"?

Here's a link to a blog post I read this morning that compares the efforts of the early church to the modern church. http://fredshope.blogspot.com/2011/10/hypervigilance.html

Once again, I'd love to hear your thoughts because I respect your opinions..."

Thank you, co_heir.... for your thoughts this morning.

co_heir said...

Amy, you're welcome. It's good that you're having this conversation with folks. The "way we've always done it" mentality has to be challenged for the church to get out of its rut.

I think the modern church would be more apt to look for agencies to refer the poor to rather than help them.

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