Over the last two days I have been so excited to share Lausanne 2010 with friends and colleagues back at home. There is so much to tell. Table groups. New people. Presentations. Ephesians study and so one. Some of my most poignant memories of the Congress are the events shared about the suffering church. Like others around me, I struggled to hold back tears. I felt I would do anything that would allow me to be in solidarity with these suffering brethren.
But this morning I realized the excitement won’t last for long because there is so much to do in my church and regular circles back home. I read some words of Eugene Peterson of how we live in an age that has replaced compassion with sentiment. “Sentiment is a feeling disconnected from relationship. Sentiment is spilled compassion. It looks like concern, it could develop into compassion, but it never does. Sentiment is the patriotic catch in your throat as the flag goes by—a feeling that never gets connected with the patriotic honesty of paying your income tax. Sentiment is the tears that flow in a sad movie, tears that never get connected with visiting your dying friend. We feel sorry for people, we lament the pain and suffering in the world. But having felt the internal motions of pity, wept a few requisite tears of sorrow and sent off ten dollars to a charitable appeal, we’ve exhausted our capacity to care…happily, there are numerous exceptions. Still, the generalizations are plausible” ( Peterson, Eugene, 1997: Leap Over a Wall: earthy spirituality for everyday Christians, pg 110-111)
The Lord impressed on me that this is not the first time I’ve been deeply moved. In fact, I have been to several gatherings, including church, met new and exciting people,been inundated with statistics,networked. I responded heartily when the ultimate was asked of me after moving presentations; I accepted the summons to greater responsibility, I made commitments to new people and new mission organizations. And I did plenty of that at Lausanne 2010. So here is the temptation I find myself in post CT2010: I’m afraid that after a few weeks my heart might become forgetful and move on with life as usual. CT2010 will become sentimental addition to my Christian experience.
God forbid. It is not that I want to forget all I have seen and heard, it is that I live within the tension of an ‘existential crisis’. By this I mean, I tend to attend, respond to and act on what is immediate to my five senses. It is much easier to allocate time to demands of my everyday living. (Incidentally I think of this as one of our problems in Christianity. We respond to what is immediate at the expense of the commitments based on convictions) For now, I realize that if I’m to carry on the Legacy of Lausanne 2010, God is calling me to have a sixth sense, a seventh one if as a woman I already have a sixth. So here is my seventh sense. It is called discipline, something I plan and attend to, consciously and intentionally; it means
- My daily prayer and devotion time needs to include some kind of reflection on a take away from CT2010.
- Secondly, I need to regularly, perhaps weekly read an enriching book or article or blog on at least a topic discussed at Lausanne and reflect on it in light of the resources available at the Lausanne website.
- And I need to consciously engage the gospel of Lausanne—not the name or the event—but the issues, the concerns, the content, in my regular interaction with other church staff, believers and congregation members.
Someone who ’feels me’ out there might want to hold me accountable to these commitments. Perhaps we might help each other 🙂