Bob Cameron, a friend and former colleague of mine, moved from suburban Mississauga to downtown Windsor (Ontario), to live amongst the vulnerable, the lonely, the needy, and the socially outcast. He and his family are there to serve, to reach out, to create and foster community, and thereby to bear living witness to the gospel of Jesus, not in words only but as “a sign, foretaste, and instrument of the kingdom of God” (L. Newbigin; G. Hunsberger). Moreover, he is connecting with and equipping local churches to join the work and to become socially engaged in their communities. He has experienced God’s call, which has compelled him to live out the mission of Christ in a way that is truly incarnational.
Bob reminds me that we—the church—need to learn not only from Jesus’ message but also from his method. It is an incarnational method. Jesus did not expect others to come to him. Jesus went to them. Not just to visit or to log hours of service and so satisfy his sense of duty. But to live with and amongst them, as one of them. In Christ, the Son of God became human; he became one of us. God doesn’t wait for us to come to him and find him in his own place of perfect tranquility and perfection; God in Christ came to dwell amongst us in all our messiness and brokenness. He left the glory and majesty of heaven to serve those he created. He became poor so that we might become “rich.” He became “sin” so that we might become the righteousness of God. He demonstrated his greatness by his lowliness and service. He came to share in our lot, so that we can ultimately share in his, as his brothers and sisters, co-heirs of the riches of God. He suffered (and died) in solidarity with those he came to save. In like manner, he calls those of us who want to be his followers to a life of service and other-centered love. He calls us out of our comfort and security into the dark and lonely places of human existence. And surprisingly, when we follow his call there we find not utter hopelessness, despair, and depravity (we find the latter just as easily in suburbia and in the boardroom), but the presence of Jesus among “the least of these” (Matt. 25). Jesus promises transformation. His kingdom gospel creates and establishes that which it proclaims. But he does not promise quick results that come without discomfort or cost. He creates a redemptive community, not an aggregate collective of like minded individuals seeking to satisfy their own self-serving religious tastes, preferences, and agendas, but a cross-bearing community of other-oriented love and service. A community in which human beings are reconciled to God and to one another in Christ, by the transformative presence and work of the Holy Spirit.
Here is a link to Bob’s story, a wonderful witness to what God does when we seek to discern and then participate in what God is doing: http://blogs.windsorstar.com/2013/01/23/bob-cameron-changing-lives-one-at-a-time/