Becoming A Digital Evangelist: An Invitation For Progressive Christians

Column by Rev. Brandan Robertson on 20 April 2023 0 Comments

Progressive faith communities are rightfully skeptical of the language of “evangelism.” In modern history, the word has come to mean something like “forceful conversion” rather than a demonstration of and an invitation to the way of Jesus.

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The perfection of nature amazes me, while the imperfection of human beings continues to disappoint me. What will it take for humans to learn the lessons of Jesus - that love is the only way to guarantee the survival of the world and its inhabitants? 


Great question Peter!

Love is a great word. Love as a verb is active, dynamic, inclusive, relational, and vulnerable. I would love to move us away from understanding love as an abstract noun or simply a virtue or emotion toward an ecology of relatedness, like how the systems of the human body work together for life and growth and greater consciousness.

Jesus’ love was not soft, and he was not a pushover. He demanded hard things of his disciples. He spoke fiery words to the elites, the upper castes of the Roman world. His love towards others was not sentimental or rescuing, but focused and deliberate. Some languages have dozens of words for love. Jesus spoke of four primary types of love, with the whole heart, soul, mind, and strength... that is with the centered presence of the heart connected to deep emotion and feeling, with the soul’s imaginative and visionary faculties, with the heart-centered intellect, and one’s erotic vitality put into decisive action. Jesus modeled this four-fold way of loving God from his own wholeness of being. The second command is like the first, “loving one’s neighbor as oneself.” We have all heard that in this command is also the injunction to love oneself. It is pretty hard to really love someone else if we don’t love ourselves.

What we have not wondered more about is the question, “who is my neighbor?” Does my “neighbor” extend to the more than human world, not just the human species? And if so does my selfhood extend beyond to the world itself? Can I love the world as myself? What would happen if I did? Poet David Whyte gives my favorite definition of sin when he says, humans are “the one terrible part of creation privileged to refuse our flowering.” By this he means the dark-side of self-reflexive consciousness, that is, of choice, is that we have the freedom to choose death rather than life. We have the freedom to live unconsciously, or selfishly. It is not just individuals either. It is systems and structures we have created that are hardwired to reward selfish greed and exploitation of Earth itself.

I don’t think it is not that we have not learned the lessons of Jesus, it’s that we value our own personal comfort and gain over the survival of the world, even beauty and life itself. We are choosing to refuse our flowering. But one thing must be clear, choice is not fate, until it becomes too late to choose.

~ Rev. Matt Syrdal




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