What Does It Mean to Be …?

10.9 HM photoby Jennifer Carpenter

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!

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Comment policy: ESA represents a wide variety of understandings and practices surrounding our shared Christian faith. The purpose of the ESA blog is to facilitate loving conversation; please know that individual authors do not speak for ESA as a whole. Even if you don\'t see yourself or your experience reflected in something you read here, we invite you to experience it anyway, and see if God can meet you there. What can take away from considering this point of view? What might you add? The comments section below is where you can share the answers to those questions, if you feel so moved. Please express your thoughts in ways that are constructive, purposeful, and respectful. Give those you disagree with the benefit of the doubt, and assume they are neither idiots nor evil. Name-calling, sweeping condemnations, and any other comments that suggest you have forgotten that we are all children of God will be deleted. Thank you!

4 Responses

  1. Mike Nacrelli says:

    What I used to appreciate most about ESA was their willingness to challege the groupthink of both the left and the right. Lately, however, I don't see much to distinguish ESA from the secular left. Defending traditional marriage and the basic right to life of the unborn have fallen to the bottom of the list of ESA priorities, if not vanished altogether.

    • Kristyn Komarnicki says:

      Hi Mike. I don't understand your concern. Did you not see the 6-page pro-life feature in our Summer Issue?
      Did you not see Ron's feature on traditional marriage in the Nov/Dec 2012 issue?

      Are these the most important issues for you personally? What other issues are important to you? What do you think of the other justice topics we take on?

      We do indeed hope to continue to challenge both the left and the right, and also to be a place of dialogue where folks with different approaches/understandings can meet in a safe space. It can be tricky to nurture such a place, but that is our goal in many ways.

      Thank you for your continued readership.
      Kristyn Komarnicki

  2. Brian Gearin says:

    In answer to the question "What does it mean to be an Evangelical for Social Action" I say this:

    I have been personally transformed from a selfish miscreant that only desired to please myself to being a willing servant of the Kingdom of God. This transformation was accomplished by the Living God first living among us in every way yet without sin. This transformation was also accomplished by the miraculous fact that this Living God was killed and then rose from the dead. I have a deepening personal relationship with the One that forgives my sin and paid the penalty I should have received for my own sin completely. I am a willing servant to this Living God and my desire is to live as this Living God commands. These two commands are to love the Living God will all of my heart, all of my soul, all of my mind and all of my strength as well as to love my neighbor as I would love myself. Because of my willingness to humbly serve the LORD of the Universe, I desire that all people have the opportunity to come into a similar personal relationship I have with this Living God. As a personal call on my life, I desire for those who are economically disadvantaged to be made aware of God's immense love for them through Spirit empowered social action that assists those in need.

  3. Kristyn Komarnicki says:

    Thanks to all who responded! Here are some additional responses that we received via our Facebook page:

    To follow Christ, be concerned about injustice. And the greatest injustice is people living in lands that do not have the Bible, God's Word, available and translated into their language, that they might come to Him.
    – Gale Ebie

    Share Jesus thru actions not just words.
    – Marsha White Melkonian

    To care for all my fellow humans with the love of Christ.
    – Kristine Tompkins

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