I wrote this back in November last year, but it really captures for me something of what Rhythms is about. So I’m bringing it to The Village Square for your thoughts…
Zach Hunter is twenty years old. He’s the sort of guy that makes me feel boring and complacent and lily-livered. Aged 12, he responded to the injustice of modern-day slavery by establishing a movement which has taken him all over the world. I’ve been listening to him speak tonight at Youthwork the Conference. And I’m feeling challenged.
My generation is interested in justice, he said. Everyone’s interested in doing good, in helping people, even in spirituality – maybe not religion, but in spirituality. But how many would take a bullet for Jesus? How many will choose sacrifice? How many will give up their money or the coming years of their life for something that really matters?
It’s not enough to be interested. What matters is passion.
Zach was doing a tag-team speaking piece with Rob Parsons, an older guy and inspiration for many youth workers over many years. Rob observed that many of us find church hard because listening, sitting still, singing and even reading aren’t really our cup of tea. Or maybe you’re the sort of person who reads a blog so that doesn’t apply to you – but it does to loads of young people everywhere and is a big reason that so many leave the church.
Sometimes we bore people out of the kingdom, he said. But these same people want to love the people on the margins of society. They get fired up about doing something about poverty. Justice they get. Church they don’t always, but justice they do.
For me this is just as much about passion. The ability to look the world in the face and say this demands I live a different way. The heart that looks to God and sees an almighty mission before us which starts in places of brokenness and powerlessness but which can uproot a world in the grip of injustice. How on earth did church get boring? What is following Jesus if it’s not a massive adventure!
But many of us will feel like the adventure has faded. That the dream of justice remains just that: a dream. We’re still interested, but our passion burns low, struggling for life like a smouldering wick.
I have Rob’s words still ringing in my ears, spoken slowly and steadily. ‘Don’t lose heart. It’s not over till its over.’
Zach observed that ‘the difference between interest and passion is action.’ This got me thinking. Sometimes, in the sweaty climb of the hike to justice, when the mist has descended and the peak seems invisible, the only way forward is to take another step. Only slow paces forward will ever bring the intoxicating view of the summit. Our passion leads us to action. But sometimes we need our actions to lead us back to our passion.
This is, for me, the essence of a life lived in the rhythm of a justice-seeking spirituality. We make space for the moments that inspire us – we build those rhythms into our lives. But we have to actually live a different way, consistently, steadily, one foot in front of the other. And that is a powerful, powerful spiritual practice. Because in the heat and dirt and despair of the journey, it is this rhythm of life that ensures we don’t lose heart.