I’m a thinker. I love the big picture. I’m a theologian and a philosopher. I like to see the system and the process and results. And I like big questions, mysterious questions, unanswerable questions. And every once in a while I come up with some semblance of a conclusion about a matter. But big decisions, theologies, and philosophies are just that.
What are they in practice?
How can I be a pacifist when my family is under attack? How can I decide on what’s morally right and wrong while not being judgmental? How do I believe in the uplifting of the poor while taking care of my own family first? How do I pursue a discipline of solidarity with the marginalized living in the suburbs?
There seems to always be a tension between believing in something and letting that belief dictate the way you live. It makes me appreciate those who have altered their living, damn the cost. MLK and Gandhi come to mind. I read a story once in Philip Yancey’s Soul Survivor about a woman approaching Gandhi with a request to teach her son that sugar is bad for him. He asked her to return with her son in a week’s time and he would grant her request. When they returned he tutored the kid and successfully weened him off sugar. The woman thanked Gandhi and asked why they had to wait a week. Gandhi replied that he first needed a week to remove sugar from his own diet!
How simple he makes it. I confess I’m a bit further down on the journey, often standing lost and confused at the crossroads between a big idea and living it. This is the place where I begin the season of Lent this year. In between planning worship services and leading programs and studies, I will be engaged in Chris Seay’s A Place At the Table. My plan is to eat as many of my Haitian brothers and sisters eat. I’ll have a banana or other fruit for breakfast, no lunch, and rice and beans for dinner.
In all honesty, eating twice a day like that is still a liberal definition of “solidarity.” Yet, I’m hopeful to be deeply challenged by the way my life is lived and how I may more greatly be a person of compassion. And just maybe I can lessen my hypocrisy and live the big ideal of Jesus -the Son of God who dined with sinners and wept over those confused at the crossroads.