writer: Allison Pelyhes is a wife, a daughter, a true Michigander, and passionate follower of Christ who is so happy to have found Storied Church in her new community.
Recently in a conversation with a Black professor at Elon University, I was struck by a wisdom which I now seek to permanently etch on my heart. It arose out of an email chain of schedules and administrative tasks. Amidst the necessary everyday work was a pattern in which we shared our “Christian-ness”. Having never met in person, we communicated our collective belief in our signatures: “peace and blessings”, “in Christ”, and other “Christianese” terms. We began to talk more and more about the present moment in our country and what it means for our commitment as Christians. At one moment in chatting about activism, I applauded her for her tremendous courage. I was struck silent by her next faithful, honest words. She shared that to suggest she has courage is to suggest fear, “and I have none about the work or mission,” she said, “which in itself makes me dangerous.”
This was the first time someone in the church suggested to me that we as Christians be dangerous. Loving with all we have, yes. Radically serving God and others, yes. Actively seeking Justice in peaceful protest, yes. Dangerous? Did I like the assertion that Christians are dangerous when it comes to the Kingdom and what it offers? Strangely and slowly as I pondered, I came to understand the answer was: yes. So, I answered my friend back:
“Praise God! God gives us the strength to do what is asked of us, to surrender, repent, and push forward. I never considered myself dangerous, but I know Jesus was a radical man of color! So, I know it makes sense for us to live dangerously as Christians. The Kingdom is worth the fight.”
Then, I was sent on a mission to find what values in my faith could not only make me courageous, but also make me dangerous. Through prayer, God laid something on my heart:
HOPE can be the most dangerous thing we have.
Hope can be defined as, “to expect with confidence”, “to yearn for something with optimistic expectation”, or perhaps my favorite, “to cherish a desire with anticipation”. Having faith embodies this value of hope. Not only desiring for the Kingdom to come, but to expect it to come through the assurance of faith.
But what about when faith fails? Rachel Held Evans, celebrated author who passed away last May, used to preface parts of her story or sermon by saying, “on the days when I believe it’s true…” referring to the resurrection. I feel that. I feel her wanting to have faith in the resurrection which is core to our Christian belief. In those times when we don’t fully think we believe or what to believe, hope steps in.
Hope yearns for a Kingdom in which there are numerous blessings for the earth and for the nations (Genesis 12:2-3), a Kingdom which resides in us (Luke 17:21). The Kingdom promises shalom, a flourishing peace which theologian Walter Bruggeman says, “is known only by the inclusive, caring community”. We cannot see the Kingdom or know it so much so as we believe it was promised. Yet, the virtue of hope readies us for the anticipation of its coming. We cherish our desire to be reunited with God in unity with the Spirit. We hold on to Hope so that we can continue to mold our world to be “on earth as it is in heaven”.
For our present moment, hope in our spirit makes us dangerous to those who would prevent the justice of God’s kingdom from coming alive in us here and now. Hope gives us wings to wrap around us amidst oppression, racism, and heartbreak. Hope gives us strength to continue to soar dangerously instead of fearfully. In hope, we begin our climb toward and continue to actively seek kingdom justice.