I don’t know about you, but the uncomfortable parts of life bother me. In fact, most times I strive to avoid them. Along with the uncomfortableness comes uncertainty, frustration, questions, doubt, and the temptation to “close our eyes and hope everything gets better soon.”
These past few months have been trying, both personally and collectively. As a world and country, we’re experiencing greater issues and strife then in decades past. ISIS. Ebola. Unstable economics. Job loss. Rumors of war. Religious persecution. Human rights violations. School shootings. Racism. And so on.
Collectively, we need to be there for others. And when I say “we,” I mean us, as Christian leaders. Our students, churches, and communities, need us to stand in the tension with them. For Christ has called us to “oversee,” or shepherd, them. He has asked us to get into the nitty-gritty and to live within the uncomfortableness and uncertainty of life. He has called us to press on, both collectively and personally, towards what lies ahead, and to not shrink back no matter the cost.
While we are in this collectively, we are also in this personally, in that the Spirit of Christ is continually working and molding us towards maturity in His image. We are all given personal journeys to live. My journey is not always someone else’s; nor does my journey rate higher or lower than someone else’s. Our life’s journey may start differently, and there may be different obstacles along the way, but from the view above, we’re all on the same road seeking out the same things: faith, hope, and love.
I believe our personal journey is best lived out collectively. And I believe Scripture calls us to this, too. We can especially see this in what and how Paul wrote. For instance, when he uses the word “you” in his letters, Paul generally uses the plural form of the word. He wants to drive home the point, that while we each have personal responsibility, we also have a collective responsibility. We are in this together, not “every man for himself.” In Ephesians 4 and 5, Paul implores Christians to walk in unity (not in division), to walk in holiness (not as the world), and to walk in love (not for selfish gain). This means that we are called, personally and collectively, as Christian leaders, to press into the uncomfortableness found within the world and to raise up the banner of faith, hope, and love, which is Jesus Christ.
I am reminded of Paul’s words in Acts 20:22-32. As he is heading towards Jerusalem, and all that awaits him there, Paul stops in Ephesus to encourage leaders he will not see again. He shares his personal journey and fait, and yet calls them to follow suit, to not give up hope, to continue pressing on together. Though uncertainty looms, there stands One who is able to lead them (and us) through. May Paul’s words encourage and empower you (us), as you (we) press into the uncomfortableness of life.
“And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood… And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”