Are Leaders Paid to Be Patient? What of Pastors? Prophets?

justice, politics, spirituality, writing

Maybe sometimes.

In crisis, Chris Christie shares this perspective:

I think he’s right in this case. I know I feel this way a lot when it comes to economic justice in Allentown, ending chronic homeless, and calling institutional Christianity into better concert with what I understand to be the way of Jesus.

In all of these areas, it’s my conviction that if the Gospel isn’t calling you to radical downward mobility, radical preferential options for the poor, radical measures of inclusion and equality, radical love of neighbor, then I’m not sure what good it is.  If your church, regardless of size, can’t be run as if it’s participating fully in the ethics and expectations of Jesus, if it’s not an example of God’s economy, what else is it doing?

Sure, Christian leaders need to be patient.  More truly, they need to patient when patience is required. They need to recognize those moments.  And they need to be prophetic when patience enables corrupt systems flush with cash and power to flourish, when patience enables their own institutions and bureaucracies to function in ways that fundamentally posit a dead Christ, a stalled spirit, a powerless God.  A God we say we trust even as we plot our own survival, build up our credentials, empires, egos, power.

I’ll never forgot something I heard my friend Branden Brooks say long ago.  It was an undergad class in philosophy of religion and we were talking about the problem of evil.  We all went back and for forth for a while, and finally Branden said “I don’t have time for evil.”   He didn’t say “this conversation isn’t important,” or “we don’t need to be intellectual.”  But he said very plainly and profoundly that while justice is on its long curve toward fulfillment, these conversations only go so far.  We may not know where evil comes from, but we are called to stop injustice at its overt sources.  Sometimes that means patience, but we know in our spirit when it doesn’t.  And then, friends, we must act.

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