Shalom Makers: Development in the Way of Christ – A More Human(e) Way – Part XIII
You can check out the outline to connect to the previous sections of this essay. We are in the final part of the second section entitled A More Human(e) way.
While for philosophical, ethical, and practical reasons some choose not to intentionally integrate Christian faith into their approach to development, I argue that it is more holistic and human(e) to do so. The heart of my argument is that everybody lives by a story. If we have become Christ followers, the story we are called to live is the story of God, not the story of the enlightenment. Whatever story we choose, we should do so fully. When we live in God’s story, we live in truth wherever it is found and we honor the poor by listening and involving them as self-identified spiritual people. Living in God’s story enables us to be fully human and live in the freedom of Jesus’ politics and the same Holy Spirit that fell on the people at Pentecost falls on the poor and non-poor alike, empowering them to be subversive agents and join God in the renewal of all things, including the powers that be. By joining God’s story, we engage in love that serves, a faith that works, and a hope that surprises. And when we faithfully embody the story of God, it is impossible to keep quiet about the hope we have.
As Leslie Newbigin has said,”If evangelism is the attempt of a religious group to enlarge itself by cajoling or manipulating those unable to resist, then it is rightly suspect. But a believing, celebrating, loving Christian fellowship, fully involved in the life of the wider community and sharing its burdens and sorrows, cannot withhold from others the secret of its hope and certainly cannot commit the monstrous absurdity of supposing that the hope by which it lives applies only to those of a particular ethnic origin” (Newbigin in Weston 2006: 147).
God is bringing the world toward the future he has imagined, and development workers have an opportunity to join him in that story. We are given the choice of which story we want to inhabit, and that story in turn shapes us, for the good or the bad. However, we will be most effective in our development work if we make every effort to root ourselves in God’s narrative.