I just “got back” from a conference of a bunch of New England Christians. I put “got back” in quotation marks because I didn’t really go anywhere–it was right in Our Fair City. It was called the GO Conference, and was put on by and for mainly Christians who consider themselves to be Evangelical.
When I was in my 20’s or something, “Evangelical” used to be the the Jedi to the “Fundamentalist” Sith, but now the two seem to have merged, at least in the public consciousness, and it’s a little awkward (at best) to self-identify with that label these days. I haven’t fit into all aspects of Evangelicalism for probably over a decade, and I like to think I draw from all streams of Christianity in my self and my practice, but the Evangelical stream is the one I grew up in, and even though I discovered this weekend that it is really tough for me to worship with smoke machines and people telling me to raise or clap my hands (I’m more likely to do that without invitation)–though that might be my own problem–and even though I might have some other differences in certain other arenas, too, I still consider this people my people, and we still have a lot in common. By which I mean Jesus, mostly. He’s a lot.
I was impressed and in some cases pleasantly surprised by the speakers and the content of the plenary sessions and the workshops. The focus of the conference was a passage in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) book of Micah, chapter six, verse 8, which enjoins the people of God to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Below are some of the speakers I heard and some of the particularly quotable things that they said.
“Don’t forget who you belong to.” Jesus didn’t tell you specifically what to do or give a list of rules—just a reminder of whose you are: Let mercy, justice, and humility mark you out. –Neil Hudson
The role of the Spirit when it comes to racial healing…This is not a philosophical topic…It’s one thing to have a headache. It’s another thing to have chronic headaches and to be kicked in the head repeatedly. –Jo Saxton
Without the stories, all we’re left with is assumptions. –Jo Saxton
“When I heard you speak,” he said, “God convicted me of the hatred in my heart—my sin—and I’ve come to ask for forgiveness.” The healing for me came from hearing him call racism sin, instead of insensitivity. There is a Cross that can change and redeem sin… –Jo Saxton
Women in the Church…It’s not just an issue—it’s people…Embody a way to disagree beautifully. –Sarah Bessey
The safest, and most emancipated, place for women in the first century was the Christian church…Paul cared about the gospel being preached, period. Including by women, not as tokens, but as powerful contributors to the work of the gospel. The church knew right from Pentecost, that the dehumanization and mistreatment of women in any way was not part of God’s plan—ever. –Sarah Bessey
What’s your standard of mercy to the repeat offenders, to the annoying, to authority, to spouse, to people on the opposite side of the aisle? –Ruth Graham
Your faith is the sum of anything you hang onto, and everything you’re willing to let go of. –Bob Goff
How you’ll know that God is really into you: Jesus. –Bob Goff
I’ve spent my whole life trying to make faith easy, and it isn’t. If you do it right, it’ll kill you, or so I’ve read. But I do want to make it simple. –Bob Goff
Nothing scares a terrorist more than a girl with a book. –Bob Goff
Love everybody, always…and start with people who creep you out. –Bob Goff (This guy was definitely the most tweetable.)
Just bring Jesus…Don’t dumb faith down. Don’t tickle people’s ears. But speak the truth in a way people can understand. Tell them who they are, not who they were…Make your faith simple, not easy. –Bob Goff
Handing them opportunities was only half of what they needed. The other half was love that they could trust. And when things got harder, I loved harder. –Lisa Fenn
I became a Christian when I realized that EVERY area of my life had to come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ…It’s not true that you convert to Jesus as Savior and then sometime later–maybe–you surrender to Him as Lord. He’s ALL LORD. –Neil Hudson
God has not placed us in His world just to get angry, just to bemoan what we think is happening, just to say it was better in the old days. He has placed us in His world that we may become His means of blessing. That YOU may become His means of blessing. –Neil Hudson
Do not try to impress God with your extravagance. Live the life to which He’s called you. The people in Micah’s time wanted the privilege of being God’s people without the responsibility. The 6:8 challenge is for the real world. –Neil Hudson
I’m going to be mulling these over for a while. Feel free to mull with me… May the mercy, justice, and humility of Jesus permeate my life–and, if you want it, yours, too.