Last week I heard Dr. Steven Garber talk about how Christians are called to get involved, get messy and get real. Dr. Garber wrote a book that I loved when it first came out back in 1997 called The Fabric of Faithfulness. It talks about what people need in order to make it as Christians, especially starting in their college years. They need (among other things) a workable worldview and they need a consistent community. I’d highly recommend this book and you can see how Dr. Garber weaves philosophy, books, movies and quotes into his thesis. I’ve been trying to create places, communities and friendships where people can discuss their viewpoints so we can learn together as we walk with Jesus.
Now he has a new book entitled Visions of Vocation. I haven’t read it yet, but he talked about it at our meeting together. And I have a copy I’m anxious to read. He wants us to consider – and I want to! – how God has created all work for us to do and that work is good. We tend to have a hierarchy of the value of work and thus workers. We live that out and then feel it when we over-value some jobs and demean others. We have difficulty seeing and celebrating things we don’t like or don’t care about or don’t think are important enough.
We might say Christians and the church should value art, but we don’t ever seem to get around to ever valuing any. Do we spend any time or money on art? Do we know or promote any artists? Do we ask them to speak into our lives? Do we pray for them?
We might say we should value government, but we do get involved at all? Voting is good, but are there more things than voting? Can we help someone somewhere? Do we pray for them?
We say we want better restaurants in our city, but do we frequent and promote and celebrate the ones that are trying to be better and different? Do we pray for them?
We say we want to raise kids in a more healthy way with better families. Do we get involved with schools? Do we honor and help moms? Do we encourage and promote dads? Do we help kids read? Do we care about playgrounds and bikes and clubs and the Boy Scouts? Do we pray for kids and families and school teachers and neighborhoods?
We’re trying to do those things. When we say we want to Love The City we mean we’re trying to help Oklahoma City be better in all ways. We care about all the things. We want better music and better venues. We want better art. We want better communities. Better roads. Better access. Better government. Better racial relations. Better justice. Better economics. Better food. Better grocery stores. Better street crossings. Better bike lanes. Better social events. Better churches even.
We’re implicated in it. The Good Samaritan was implicated. He helped. He got bloody and dirty. He looked foolish. He spent his own money. He became less dignified. He gave up what he had to help someone else who needed it.
I went to a new dentist on Friday. I’m trying the best I can to root myself more in my community and she’s in midtown and I needed a new dentist so I thought I’d try her. She did a fantastic job, and we were talking about businesses and church and I suppose the implication of our places. She asked me about Emerson High School and I told her about the bike project we’re working on there. She asked if she could start meeting kids and start taking them tooth brushes and talking about oral hygiene especially for the young mothers and their babies and kids.
The Oklahoma City University Law School just bought a building right by Emerson High School too. They’re going to start a small program where the students at Emerson can get legal help with any issues they might have – immigration, driver’s license, paternity, tickets, domestic violence, jail time…
City Pres moved in recently too. We’re just starting to ask how we can help. Picking up leaves. Reading to kids while their parents are in school. Helping tutor. Helping with the bike program. Helping with teacher appreciation. Having lunch with kids. Helping Young Life. Throwing some parties. We’re implicated with Emerson.
We’re implicated with H&8th. With Midtown and The Midtowner. With Mesta Park. With Heritage Hills. With Classen Ten Penn. With the OKC Marathon. With The Edge. With Lift. With St. Anthony’s. With the senior housing center across the street. With Catholic Charities. With Open Streets. With oil and gas.With the Gazette and the Oklahoman. With the Ambassador and Sieber. With art and artists and the Midtown Songwriters Series. With the Plaza District. With developers. With small businesses and restaurants and coffee shops and churches and houses and people. With people like me and you and also those unlike me and you.
And they’re implicated in us. What shall we do?
We may mess up. We may get dirty and blood. We may waste time and money. We may get implicated in things that we didn’t exactly expect or want. We may find out that our help isn’t needed nor wanted. We may discover that incredible things are already happening. We may find out that we can’t do much. We may find out that grace is an amazing thing and people want true communities and friendships and they’re actually surprised first and then thrilled to have the church / a church actually want to implicate itself into the warp and woof of the whole world.