As we continue through the Gospel According to Mark we see Jesus choose to engage, rather than avoid, marginalized individuals. We've asked some members to share what this means to them and how it impacts their daily lives.
This is part 2 of a blog series by Andy Kinomoto (Kino), you can find part 1 here.
It Requires the C-Word
Not like I have decades of experience or wisdom, but virtually everything I can attribute as worthwhile in my life has been a result of old-fashioned, long-term, radical commitment.
Young Life asks all interested volunteer leaders to commit to a minimum of two years in service since nearly every child’s history in the city is littered with abandonment. Committing even just two years is pretty counter-cultural in a city where lots people consume and flee like summer tourists. I had no idea how difficult it would be to keep that commitment.
My job was in shambles and I had a new and very promising job offer on the table in the industry of my dreams and at a much higher salary. This job offer could be my only ticket out of a miserable situation, but there was a consequence: the new job schedule would require me to sever my Young Life volunteering commitments. I sought the prayer and advice of many people who gave me wildly different perspectives: “You have already given these kids so much - they are not your responsibility - you are.” “God will give you the desires of your heart.”
So what were the desire of my heart? To enter an industry of my dreams or continue walking with these high school kids?
Jesus compelled me to risk it all for my Young Life kids. I declined the job offer and, by this time, my current employer was fully-aware of my attempted escape and so there was no guarantee of my employment anywhere.
But out of the blue, a new job offer arrived that would perfectly marry my passion for nonprofits and design. My new employer also fully embraced my Young Life involvement and granted me an alternate work schedule to increase my ability to spend time with kids.
Through that experience I discovered God to be the author of commitment who honors risk taken for the sake of the Gospel.
It Calls Unlikely Candidates
You may not be drawn to a formalized, time-intensive ministry, but your lifestyle can be marked by ministry if you posture yourself for daily Gospel encounters. Much like a surfer cannot ride the perfect wave unless he has a board beneath him before the wave arrives, we cannot really expect to champion the wellbeing of others if we don't first equip ourselves for the task.
Engaging the marginalized of society for the sake of the Gospel begins with awareness, requires commitment, and calls unlikely candidates like you and me. The beautiful thing about the Gospel is that it can be expressed in ways as beautiful and wildly diverse as we are:
What if we spent more time engaging people who live on the streets of LODO rather than isolating ourselves in establishments they can’t enter?
What if we sponsored impoverished kids, who have never been outside the city limits, for a week of camp in the mountains to encounter Jesus instead of buying an Epic Pass?
What if we dated people who amplified our missional priorities rather than letting the people we date put limitations on our missional priorities?
Some of these examples may sound foolish sacrifices to you, but I know people in our community who have made such radical decisions. To the heart that internalizes the radical truth of the Gospel, foolish sacrifices suddenly feel more practical than radical.