This I Believe
By Trey Lyon
This I believe:
I believe in God–and on the days when I don't, God is still there, helping my unbelief.
I believe the work of Jesus is the ultimate defiance–that death and selfishness and greed do not have the last word.
I believe Love always gets back up.
I believe “love wins”, but I also believe that “justice is what love looks like in public”.
I believe love and service are inextricably linked, twin forces more powerful than any bomb, any nation, any person.
I believe there is a reason that the only time Jesus spoke of final judgment, it was about sheep and goats and how we treat the poor, not what kind of prayers we prayed.
I believe in the church.
I believe I know how Augustine felt when he said “the church is a whore and she is my mother”.
I also believe in the giftedness of my sisters in Christ and the damage done to them by generations of patriarchal cultures and misogynist readings of Scripture, so I wish Augustine had also said “the church is a lying, cheating deadbeat Dad adulterer…and he is my Father.”
I believe the Church is still the best hope of the Kingdom coming here and now.
I believe there are some who have been so hurt and damaged by church that they can no longer call it home.
I believe the church should help surround those folks with a community of love–and pay their therapy bills.
I believe that the good news of Jesus is good news for all people.
I believe Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life but I also believe, as a wise non-Western professor once reminded me, those are Jesus' criteria, not mine and when I attempt to sit in judgment of any other human being I am trying to take that job from Jesus, and that's not my call and it's not yours either.
I believe that as a white, middle-class, educated male I am a product of privilege and entitlement that I can never fully grasp or understand.
I believe that when one of our after-school guys asks me “what does it feel like to be white?” I cannot accurately describe what it means to be in the majority because I have never truly known what it is to be in the minority.
I believe we have a sacred duty to laugh, learn, love and grow together to help understand one another.
I believe, to quote Cornel West, that the “deep legacy of white supremacy is like a serpent woven around the legs of the table upon which the Declaration of Independence was signed” and that is the responsibility of the Church–not just the Black Church or the White Church or the American Church–but the Church universal–to be the drum major for racial and social justice for all peoples.
I believe that the canon is bigger than the 66 books of the Bible–and I think deep down, you probably do too.
I believe my canon is Amos and Acts, Karl Barth and Bono, Resphigi and Rent, Caravaggio and Banksy, Jesus and Gandhi, Miles Davis and Mumford & Sons.
I believe that all truth is God's truth and that it points us to a deeper, richer way of living.
To quote the Psalmist Ben Harper “I believe in a better way” but I also believe he asks a deep and profound question–“what good is a cynic with no better plan?”
I believe in seminary.
I believe in preparing yourself academically to encounter Christ's church and equip those who gather together to think seriously, serve generously and love overwhelmingly.
I believe that you should wrestle with what you learn here and you should have the courage to preach, teach and live it.
I believe there is a chasm that exists between the ministers of the church and the congregations they serve because for too many years they were told that regular church-folks can't handle the messiness of higher Biblical criticism or differing theories of atonement.
I believe those people taught generations of ministers how not to get fired instead of how to help people follow Jesus.
I believe that this is a hard task–someone even called it “a narrow way.”
I believe if you want a large, affluent, prosperous church with lots of buildings, then preaching tension and paradox probably won't get you there.
I also believe some churches are doing this well and honestly, and people will give their lives to something worth living for.
I believe the local church has a responsibility to serve every nook and cranny of the community in which it finds itself–the poor and marginalized, the beggar, the single mom, but also the CEO and the banker, the sports agent and the IT analyst.
I believe God gives churches buildings to be used more than twice a week.
I believe a time is coming and is now come when “church” can be what happens on Sundays, Wednesdays or whenever and the rest of the time it can be a vibrant, thriving community center.
I believe we need churches and individuals, ministers and missionaries in the city.
I believe interstates and affluence enabled those who had the means to find bigger yards and more space for less money, allowing for people to work in a community they are no longer connected to.
I believe churches in the suburbs have an even harder task of coaxing people out of their houses and introducing them to their neighbors.
I believe that rural poverty is no different than urban poverty and that the mission field of Cedartown and Cairo, Georgia, Helena, Arkansas and Flint, Michigan are just as noble as Uganda and Sudan, Overtown Miami and Southeast Atlanta.
I believe that success in mission is not measured by the number of souls saved, heads baptized or churches built.
I believe success in mission is when freedom for the captives is proclaimed, fought for and secured–when the good news of the forgiveness of debts is proclaimed to the poor–when the blind are treated as full members of society and given medical attention, therapy and sight–when those who are being oppressed are truly set free from their oppressors and not simply freed to other forms of economic or social oppression–when every year is proclaimed as the year of God's Favor, and every human being known and treated as God's Beloved, Favored Child.
I believe that cynicism and education, conflict and bitterness, doubt and disgust can and will nurture resentment that will keep you from knowing and giving yourself fully to the wildness and beauty of the Kingdom of God that is both already and not-yet.
I believe you have a choice to let those deep feelings, which often come from true, heartbreakingly painful things done and said by others who claim to love Christ paralyze you or to lose them in love and service to strangers for no other reason than that they too are created in God's image.
I believe you can study Mission and Evangelism–you can even study it twice–and not be particularly convinced that there is any good news worth telling.
I believe we may be in a post-colonial, post-Christian, post-modern, post-structural world but we are not in a post-hope, post-redemption, post-peace world.
I believe there is good news.
I believe that the love of God, fully revealed in Jesus the Christ, transforms lives and communities.
I believe there are millions of people who need to hear and see that love.
I believe most of those people have already heard about Jesus, but they've yet to see someone actually live that way.
I believe they know people who love Jesus but build bombs, who claim Christ but exploit others, who have lots of friends at church but don't care who their neighbors are.
I believe they want to think Jesus is telling the truth, but his followers are making it awfully hard for them.
I believe you could be the answer–no, that's not right.
I believe you ARE the answer–Jesus the Christ, fully revealed in you. Somebody somewhere said that was the only “hope of glory” in this world.
I believe you can do it–you and I–we, all of us–we can do it. We can do the hard work of wrestling with Christ's words and figuring out what it means for us here and now–what we do and how we vote, what we own and what we give away, who we put first and who we love, what makes us angry and what feeds our souls.
I believe in a better way and I believe it starts right here, right now. And I believe you can make it happen.
Trey Lyon is a CBF Field Personnel and graduate of McAfee School of Theology
Disclaimer: Taken and edited from NPR's “This I Believe”