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Monday, February 24, 2020

Get Proximate - How to Change the World, pt. 1

Bryan Stevenson
I was so fortunate to get to hear Bryan Stevenson speak at Davidson College on January 28. Just the previous week Heather and I went to see Just Mercy (imdb), the movie based on Stevenson's life work through the Equal Justice Initiative to pursue social justice for falsely imprisoned and unfairly sentenced juveniles and people of color.

The event at Davidson filled up the original venue and then sold-out the basketball arena. He spoke to the gathered crowd on the topic: "How to Change the World." From what I've come to learn about his life, if anyone has the clout and experience to speak to such a lofty topic, Stevenson does. He shared four points, all after framing his work in his own faith and desire to "get to higher ground" with the people he works with. I'd like to look at each of his points in a series of posts and draw a connection with the work of the church, which is also in the business (under God's leadership) of changing the world. Here's a short (3 1/2 min.) video summary of his presentation (VIDEO).

How to Change the World, pt. 1: GET PROXIMATE

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
I don't remember if Stevenson made the point or if my own mind went there so quickly, but Jesus was the exemplar of helping people (and changing the world) through getting proximate. He was no ivory tower Messiah, but spent his days along the seashore, in the outer court of the Temple (where women were allowed), in the Judean countryside and in the neighboring country of Samaria. And even bigger picture, he is named "Emmanuel" or "God with us." He is God-in-the-flesh, born into the world to live and move among us.

The church cannot miss the example of Jesus nor the challenge of Mr. Stevenson. We cannot remain within our walls and and carry the Good News into the world. Jesus great prayer for all of us who would follow after him was that God not take us out of the world, but send us INTO the world even as he was sent. (cf. John 17:13-21) Mr. Stevenson reminds us of what is a great Gospel truth: to love and serve others and to change world requires that we get out, in, and among the world... that we GET PROXIMATE to the neighbors and communities where God would lead us.

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