This time of year often fosters reflection and 2020 has offered a great deal for us to reflect upon. For a year that began with such promise, collective expectation dampened through the emergence of a life-altering global disruption. In spite of this challenge, our calling has not been altered.
Who, but followers of Christ, should exhibit how to live in the messy, the uncomfortable, and the uncertain? Our school year theme, “For Such a Time as This,” invokes the words spoken about Queen Esther living “in the middle of it” as the ground beneath her feet grew increasingly unstable. Despite the high stakes, she courageously stood for right in the face of great personal risk.
While there are no shortage of opportunities to learn from the challenges before us, I’d like to highlight just one for the Caldwell community at the start of the new year. In Micah 6:8, the prophet writes:
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
This truth has convicted and centered me in numerous ways. Am I embodying these values in my daily life? How have we, as believers, responded when seeing things differently than our brothers and sisters in Christ? In a year replete with political, racial, and health-related tumult, have we sought to extend justice, kindness, and humility to all those in our path?
- Justice has become a buzzword. As believers looking through a biblical lens we are called to what is right. Moreover, seeking to act justly will at times require us to distinguish between perceived entitlement and that to which Christ has called us. Just living places others before ourselves.
- To love kindness requires us to demonstrate care and compassion even when inconvenient. Kindness is more than pleasantries, more than a smile, more than a simple favor. Kindness seeks nothing in return and is unmistakable when delivered. Lovers of kindness actively seek ways to bestow charity to all people.
- To walk humbly is a rarity these days. As self-promotion and what’s “on brand” grow more commonplace, humility remains a quiet yet desirable trait. C.S. Lewis posited, “humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” I have not met an authentically humble soul from whom I wished more bravado or hubris.
Our world lacks reliable models for how to treat others with whom we disagree. What better environment to demonstrate civility than a classical, Christian community? In order to set that example, we must first ensure we are right in our own house. If believers are to provide a template worthy of emulation, we would do well to honor the words of John 13:35, which states: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This is not a call to some Pollyanna lifestyle. Even Christ-followers don’t see eye to eye all of the time. Demonstrating love one for another means overlooking imperfections, assuming best intent, and putting oneself in a neighbor’s shoes rather than passing judgment for something we may never fully understand.
We live in a fallen world, one that will never resolve until Christ calls us home. In the meantime, may we be the city on a hill that a dark world so desperately needs.
Grace and peace to each of you as we begin the year anew.