Nearly a year ago, I was flying on a plane reading a book called “In the name of Jesus” by Henri Nouwen. A thought punctured my mind so forcefully it was as if the plane had dropped into a nosedive. My mind was arrested with this thought: “Sean you care more about what people can do for you than about people. You care more about what a person thinks of you, than about the person.”
I knew this thought was correct and I hated it.
For the rest of the flight, I prayed that God would forgive my utilitarianism and create in me a renewed heart of love – a heart that would match his own willingness to be with people, see people, and love them so much to give all He had for them.
“For the rest of the flight I prayed that God would forgive my utilitarianism and create in me a renewed heart of love – a heart that would match his own willingness to be with people and see people and love them so much to give all He had for them.”
That day set me on a steady and significant journey of allowing God to tenderize my heart and open my eyes to see the people all around me more clearly.
As soon as I landed, I shared what I had realized with my wife. I knew I needed to take action. She agreed to help me and together we decided to begin volunteering one Sunday a month at a respite program caring for kids with autism.
It’s a very small thing, but it was a beginning for me. These kids do not care about the scope of my leadership, or that I am climbing any metaphorical ladders, or able to discuss the coolest podcasts… They only care that I am fully there. They are teaching me to be more present, more curious, more observant, more tender, more patient, more loving. They are teaching me to be a more attentive husband, a more patient father, and better person.
I have much to learn.
I am convinced, with my whole heart, that the world is starving for people who will love deeply, and I pray God would mold me into such a person.
As I have spent more time truly seeing and listening to the people around me lately I keep hearing the same question… What does it mean to be human? What makes us, us? What gives humanity value, purpose, dignity? And when do we get it? Do we all really share it? And can we lose it?
This is the question dominating our culture today. It touches all the topics that are hard to talk about. How we answer the question “what does it mean to be human?” colours how we interact with issues like racism, abortion, sexuality, poverty, and technology, just to name a few. It also impacts the way we talk about these issues and influences our ability to display empathy, respect and compassion. My observation is that Christians are struggling to do this in a way that honours the depth of transformative power that the good news of Jesus offers.
For most of my life I’ve been told to avoid these topics for fear of them being distractions to the gospel message or divisive to community. However, over the last year as our leadership team has prayerfully met together, we have come to believe that the Lord is leading us to step into a season where we thoughtfully and loving begin to talk more about how Jesus sheds light on our humanity.
Thankfully, we aren’t the first to start thinking about this, and neither are we the only ones, but we are committed to stepping into this conversation in the coming years with a fullness of care and compassion and an eye on the magnitude of the gospel’s transformative power. This will become a theme for us. I believe it will change us. Imagine the impact in our world if this generation of young people is equipped to effectively and empathetically bring the light of the gospel into this critical conversation.
Like many things in my life, I wish that I could see the outcome of this new direction before we embark on the journey, but I just can’t. All I know is that the Lord is beckoning us to follow Him into a conversation that He is stirring in the world, one that He wants us to wade into – connecting the gospel to the beautiful and mysterious reality that we as human beings we are all made in His likeness.
This won’t be simple, and it’s not going to be easy, but it is the journey forward. I invite you to come along and see how Jesus will open our eyes to see people more clearly and love them more deeply.
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