Wherever we are on our journey with Christianity, Brian McLaren invites us to return to the instructions given by the Hebrew prophet Micah: “O human being, this is what God desires for you. That you do justice. That you love kindness. That you walk humbly in the presence of your God” (Micah 6:8). Brian writes:
Micah turns a religious question into a human question.
Christians very much like to call Jesus the Son of God. Jesus much preferred to call himself the Son of Man (or son of humanity). There are many layers of meaning to the term. But the simplest and most obvious is this: a son of humanity is a human being. If you want to put a finer point on it, son of means the essence of or perhaps a new generation of. Jesus is saying that he represents the essence of humanity, a new generation of humanity, a new kind of human being. In this light, his constant invitation, follow me, means imitate me and join me on my journey toward a new way of being human. . . .
In that light, whatever you choose to call yourself, Christian or not, I hope you will aspire to be a humble human being . . . religiously. . .
I hope you will desire to be a kind human being, because . . . that person you call your enemy . . . that person is part of your family, part of your species, part of your story, part of your kind. . . .
And in addition to being a humble and kind human being, I hope you will aspire to being a just human being. Don’t seek power over others to control or exploit them or harm them. Instead, use whatever power that comes your way for the common good, so that all people everywhere can share equal justice and equal dignity. Seek justice. Love justice. Do justice. Be a just human being . . . religiously.
When I say religiously, I mean intentionally, seeking out practices that promote justice, kindness, and humility. And I mean collaboratively, joining or building communities or networks that promote those practices. And I mean reverently, knowing how precious this heartbeat and this breath really are, and feeling every moment how much danger and opportunity are held in these human hands. Religiously, as I’m using the term, means with a sense of the sacredness of everything and a commitment to re-consecrate everything.
In the midst of uncertainty for what the future of Christianity holds, Brian invites us to continue what he calls “our spiritual quest”:
To become the most just, kind, and humble version of ourselves that we possibly can, day by day . . . to practice a faith that expresses itself in love . . . to lean with others into a new humanity, a new generation or new kind of humanity, open to every good resource that can help us, explicitly Christian or not.
Brian D. McLaren, Do I Stay Christian? A Guide for the Doubters, the Disappointed, and the Disillusioned (New York: St. Martin’s Essentials, 2022), 217, 218, 219, 220.
Explore Further. . .
- Read about the future of Christianity in the CAC’s journal Oneing.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Chaokun Wang, 墙 wall (detail), 2020, photograph, China, Creative Commons. Yoichi R. Okamoto, Munich’s Large and Beautiful Fussgangerzone (detail), 1973, photograph, Munich, Public Domain. Chaokun Wang, 树 tree (detail), 2019, photograph, Qufu, Creative Commons. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge the image.
This week’s images appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image inspiration: Sometimes the wall cracks or the tree dies. We ponder and question what we profess to believe. It’s a healthy practice that undergirds a maturing faith.
Story from Our Community:
I was raised evangelical. I married a very legalistic evangelical. I became more and more self-righteous, convinced my politics and church were the only true way. Then I had a moral failure and I was the one being judged, being cut off. I spiraled into addiction. I cut God out completely. I hit bottom and started attending a 12-step group. I couldn’t go back to that church culture, but I wanted someone to make sense of what I was struggling with, enter Richard. I want my belief in Christ to make me a vessel of what he represented, not the ego-centric person I was. Thank you CAC, you are making a way in the desert.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.