What Does It Mean to Be …?
Last week, I had the privilege of gathering with other Sider Scholars and ESA staff members. We shared delicious food and revealed our favorite ice cream flavors and superheroes. We also shared our answers to a central, unifying question, a question that has been haunting me since I truly began to follow Jesus. Perhaps you’ve been asking it, too.
What does it mean to be an evangelical for social action?
It can feel like a complicated question. Each word can suggest so many different things, depending on your personal vantage point and experience. In any case, the answer is not as obvious as “Subscribe to PRISM, sign up for the ePistle, and register for the Impact Holy Land Conference” (though, you probably will want to go ahead and do all those things if you haven’t already).
Still, the question proved to provide more insight than I expected.
Each of us answered by writing or drawing a response—anonymously—and then dropping it into a glass jar. Once all the responses had been collected, deputy director Sarah King read the responses aloud and passed them around for everyone to see. The responses were as varied as the personalities in the room, and we threw out guesses in an effort to match a response to its author, amidst much laughter.
One by one, we listened and rejoiced over each response. One by one, each person’s voice was heard, recognized, and celebrated.
While all of this was going on, I thought to myself: We are living the response to the question. We were laughing together. We were praying together. We were speaking scripture together. We werre sharing a meal together. We chose to know each other, even though we are all vastly different in many quantifiable (and not-so-quantifiable) ways. As the night went on, we plotted holy mischief together. We worshiped as quietly and as loudly as possible. We joked and played together—children of all ages. We were hearing, touching, tasting, seeing, and sensing that God is good and that what God made is good and full of value and purpose, possibility and power.
One cannot ask a question about “being” and expect it to remain contained in paper. Our response to this question has real-world consequences. And just as our lives are not static, the answer to this question cannot be static. The actions described are not just reserved for special gatherings with those who seem to be on the same page. They are our Way of living no matter where we are or who is present.
In all of that, I turn the question to you now. What does it means to YOU to be an evangelical for social action? Please share your answer with us in the comments below!