Ok. Full disclosure. I'm finding this to be one of the hardest postings like this that I've put together in a long time. It's not for any lack of ideas. My head is spinning with many reflections, musings and imaginations. Certainly it is not for any lack of content. Our faith experience and sacred text is more than enough rich soil to cultivate some great material."
It's the time we find ourselves in.
Just recently I found out about another long time friend and colleague who is under investigation resulting from accusations that have been brought forward regarding the way he has handled himself in ministry. Not again. Sigh.
What is there to say?
To quote from an old Bruce Cockburn song, "The Strong One", "Mouths move without vision, Without regard for consequences. Eyes fill with memories, Poisoned by intimate knowledge of failure to love. Sometimes, sometimes, Doesn't the light seem to move so far away?"
And yet silence is not the answer.
An open letter sent to Evangelical leaders this past week I find very compelling. Here's an excerpt:
"We are looking to you to speak out and help us navigate this situation. We are not trying to vilify you. We realize that it is painful for you, too, to learn that such serious allegations have been brought against someone you may know personally and love deeply. But the reality is, personal relationships aside, you occupy a rare space right now – a space where you could be a voice of hope and healing, as a generation is in turmoil.
If you don't speak into this situation, skeptics will anyway, and their voices will not be fruitful in fostering healthy dialogue and discipleship. Our question to you is whether you will choose to be agents of healing or re-traumatisation?"
When thinking about this upcoming post a few weeks back, the only text that would come to mind was Isaiah 1:18. I actually had spring boarded off of these verses some time back in one of my previous National Director reflections and so I was hesitant about doing a "repeat". But I couldn't shake the sense that this was something for us to be pondering right now. I opened my Logos app and started digging. Good stuff. But what was the Lord trying to say to us right now through this ancient prophetic invitation?
Then I got this most recent news. I started "listening" to particularly Millennials and GenZ's through various social media platforms and have been chatting with many people. The aforementioned post was a "penny drop" moment for me. Ah, did Isaiah 1:18 have some relevance in speaking to this moment?
"Come let us reason together."
The basic meaning of the term לְנַמֵק (reason) is "to determine what is right" in order to restore relationships. The spirit in which this invitation is extended is not out of a posture of argument to discover only where blame lies, nor is it simply an evaluation of religious practices and what could be done better. Neither is it only a matter of ultimate justice. (see Smith, G.V. (2007) Isaiah 1-39. B&H Publishing Group pp.109-110)
For the Lord, it's clear who's at fault. What's been done. The toll taken. Yet, in this extraordinary moment of mercy - a foreshadowing of the ultimate work of the coming Messiah - the invitation is extended. Let's sit down together. Let us reason. The avoidance of scapegoating and a resistance to sweeping things under the carpet. A peaceful posture of the soul that allows for a sound mind. Reason. There is a better way.
"Though your sins are like scarlett ... though they be like red."
There is a way forward into healing. Into cleansing. Into restoration.
"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool."
The text is indicating that this is through reasoning together. Can we courageously open a space of reason that allows us to discern? To "determine what is right?" Unto the restoring of relationships? Together?
Let us find this way forward, for we are at a crossroads. We can choose the "good way" and walk in it, or we can choose a different path.
Isaiah continues in verse 19 and 20, "If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword."
This other way forward ends with us devouring each other. A sword instead of a cross. Centuries later, in his preamble to his didactic message regarding the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, the Apostle Paul taps this theme, "You, my brothers and sisters were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh, rather serve each other humbly in love ... if you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other."
Is it possible for us to commit to a cruciform shaped dialogue that results in vulnerability? Can we cultivate the meekness that fosters the patience and restraint required to listen well? Will we lean into the finished work of the cross of Christ which frees us all to come into the open? How do we foster the humility that makes room for a depth of confession that actually results in true and lasting healing?
As the emerging generations are asking us, "will we be agents of healing or of re-traumatisation?"
Come let us reason together.