Walking with Jesus, in Our Communities

Andy Crouch says that the only way we impact culture quickly is by destroying; building it takes a lot longer. He asks: What can you do to Rome in a day? Burn it. To build it, you’re going to need a lot of days.

We see that in our world. It’s a lot easier to destroy than to develop. It’s much simpler to demolish what you believe is wrong, than it is to establish what is truly right.

All of this, Crouch says, should challenge us to cultivate patience. Anything good we are going to accomplish as a Church is going to come through long-term commitment and faithful service.

During this time of unrest and conflict in our country, I’ve heard someone share a simple idea for policing our communities: having officers walk their beats. Now, it’s certainly more complicated than this, and one idea doesn’t solve decades of problems – but it’s an idea that I think could make a difference. Through the repeated efforts of daily walking through the communities they serve, police will gain a better understanding of those communities, and the people who live and work there. It’s a simple idea rooted in the very idea of community: if you’re going to oversee a neighborhood, you need to know the people of that neighborhood. Policing, just like pastoring, is best done in person.

Of course, this won’t prevent conflict, and it certainly doesn’t bring an end to an uprising. But how would relationships between police and people change, if the ordinary folks were known to the officers who had jurisdiction in their area?

When Jesus walked among us, he … well … walked among us. As John Ortberg has noted: Jesus did ministry at the speed of foot. Walking wasn’t just Jesus’ main mode of transport; it was also his main method of ministry. Jesus certainly taught his friends many things, but many of the things Jesus taught them happened as they went about life –  walking, sharing with people, touching them, seeing them, hearing their stories. So much of what we know about Jesus comes through his interactions with the people he encountered. We who follow Jesus have much to learn from this.

If Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life – what happens when we not only root our lives in his Truth – but also in the Way he shared that Truth? What does the Church look like when we take Jesus’ ways as our model for ministry? How much change occurs – deep, life-transforming change – when we get out of our comfort zones, and into our communities?

And what could happen if this approach took hold in our broader culture? What would our communities look like? Our police? Our politicians? What divisions would be defused, or at least diminished?

We have a lot of work to do – work that the Church should be leading. Perhaps, forced by coronavirus and prompted by civil unrest, we in the Church have been given an opportunity – to be less concerned about our Sunday programming, and more focused on being in our community, walking with people, right where they are.