choosing the good over the convenient

i know everybody on the blogosphere refers you to others posts (“you simply must read this!”).  but this is different.  you simply must read this.

gabe lyons has written an uber-important piece that also happens to be meaningful and moving.  he calls it, “to cade and the eight percent.”  you can read it here.

and you simply must.

but until you get to read it for yourself, i want to highlight one little part of gabe lyon’s article that resonates with me.  he writes…

We—as humans—feel ill equipped to handle life-altering uncertainty. If we  could see the future, we’d do everything we could to keep things safe.  Yet it also seems that when we can control the future, we don’t do well. In the case of prenatal diagnosis, when we catch a glimpse of the  predicted future, nine out of ten times we choose not to permit the  adventure of life with a Down syndrome child! We buy into the utopian  lie that we know what’s best for ourselves and for this world.

This is where community comes in. Mothers, Fathers, family members and  friends need each other to come alongside and encourage that the Creator has a full intention for this life. To use this story to challenge our  understanding of what it truly means to be human. To dispel our  temptation to control, preserve order and protect a superficial version  of what a perfect family must be.

When our second and third  children were en utero, Rebekah and I were highly encouraged to do  prenatal screenings; but we politely declined. While we knew we had the  highest 

odds of repeating a Down syndrome birth, it made no difference  to us. A life was a life. On our worst days, we focused on the fear of  the unknown. On our best days, we focused on trusting God to give us the strength to parent whomever’s life we were about to be given the privilege of stewarding. 

So, why should you care about a Down  syndrome diagnoses? This isn’t just about Down syndrome. It’s about our  understanding of the common good.

The historic definition of the “common good” is the most good for all people. But today this definition has a competitor called the “public interest.” In this presupposed progressive view, the most good for the most people is all that matters. Only one word changed but the implications are  enormous. A commitment to the common good demands we value the elderly,  the disabled, the unborn and those unlike us. It’s an old, rooted  conception being lost on a generation consumed with progress.

We must allow life in our world that doesn’t follow our scripted narrative. We must have the courage to choose that which is good over what is convenient.

how convicting!  am i the only one who feels like gabe lyons has laid down a challenge to the church?

it reminds me of a book i read sometime back entitled “the abundant community” (which i reviewed here).  written by peter block (a civic/organization developer) and john mcknight (a community activist), the book is not about church/church leadership, but it applies on many levels.

the authors want people to move away from what they call “consumer systems” and toward taking greater ownership of their lives through neighborhood associations.  as i read the book, though, everywhere i saw the term “abundant community,” i thought “biblical community.”  and instead of seeing the word “neighborhoods,” i read “small groups.”

and here’s the parallel to gabe lyon’s piece: block and mcknight wrote…

What was a condition (normal human limitation) is now turned into a problem that can be solved.  Systems are designed for, and therefore their existence hinges upon, finding solutions to problems.  Need it faster, better, cheaper?  Design a system, hire a good manager, and your problems are solved.  This type of thinking has gradually become quite acceptable in our culture, but has caused irreparable damage.

The point is that the condition we are in is being human.  To be human means to be fallible.  How do you deal with limitations and the suffering that goes with them?  You can try to fix it or accept it.  In general, this is a key system-community contrast.  The system way, in an institution, is generally organized to pursue a cure.  The system mindset thinks of the human condition as a problem to be solved.  The competent community treats troubles as a condition.  They cannot be solved.  However, they can be accepted, and the person is valued for their gifts that build community.

Systems aggregate people who are aging and market it as the golden years.  You can move from independent living to assisted living to nursing home to hospice without ever having to leave the property.  Does life get any more efficient than that?  The same dependency goes for other family functions, like physical health, entertainment, nutrition, employment, mental well-being, and stewardship of the land.  All have been outsourced to professionals.  All are organized in systems designed to deliver these functions in as efficient, low-cost, and consistent way as possible.

Before the onslaught of consumption and services, our families had no secrets.  When Peter was young, his mother’s family lived on the four corners of an intersection. Everybody knew that Aunt Fannie drank too much and was overweight.  Aunt Rose’s husband left her when she was thirty-one.  Aunt Martha was sweet but a little daft. Uncle Joe lived off the generosity of his brothers. 

The advantage of en extended family like this was that there were no secrets, and the gifts of all were needed to hold it all together.  Peter and his siblings  were required to spend time with Aunt Fannie, to tiptoe around Aunt Rose, and to endure Aunt Martha when she stayed too long and forgot where she lived.  In this way, each family member was a teacher of what it meant to care for someone and not try to fix them.

the church is supposed to be extended family.  anyone who has been in the church for any length of time can tell stories of members the world would label as handicapped or marginalized (like cade) who were an integral, cherished part of the fellowship.  they benefit from being in a loving community and the church is enriched by their inclusion.

so why is the modern church so fragmented and compartmentalized?  do we really need single and college and youth and children’s ministries?  do we really need contemporary and traditional services?

is church really about us?





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