The Strong, Bold Power of Hope

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Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.

– II Corinthians 3:12

Boldness is a part of our Christian witness. Holy boldness makes it possible for us to proclaim, without apology, Christian values, justice for every person, and the radical reconciliation that has the power to unite us. There has never been a time in history when it was more important to hold tightly to a strong, resilient hope that gives its life to restore beloved communities where justice reigns. When I was just beginning my ministry, a Seminary professor, Paul Simmons, asked a compelling and provocative question: “Is what you’re doing worth giving your life for?”

Curtiss Paul DeYoung and Allan Aubrey Boesak wrote a haunting book entitled Radical Reconciliation: Beyond Political Pietism and Christian Quietism. In the book, they present a political theology that proposes the kind of boldness that can result in true reconciliation. They assert that so much of what is being called reconciliation and social justice stops short of completing the complex work required.

Too often β€œreconciliation” is used merely to reach some political accommodation that does not address the critical questions of justice, equality, and dignity that are so prominent in the biblical understanding of reconciliation . . . When Christians discover that what is happening is in fact not reconciliation, and yet seek to accommodate this situation and refuse to run the risk and challenge of prophetic truth-telling, we become complicit; we deny the demands of the gospel and refuse solidarity with the powerless and oppressed.

The authors continue by denouncing ineffective attempts at reconciliation and calling for bold reconciliation that brings genuine hope. What does it mean, the authors ask, to live out radical reconciliation in our lives? They call the reader to immerse their lives in the work of restoring beloved communities. DeYoung poses this question:

Do racially diverse congregations automatically experience reconciliation or could they simply become demographically diverse but not racially reconciled?

The authors call attention to the “need for a reconciliation that is more than conflict resolution and political accommodation; a reconciliation that resists the temptation to domesticate the radical Jesus, pandering to our need for comfortable reconciliation under the guise of a kind of political pietism and Christian quietism that deny the victims of affliction the comfort of justice.”

Paul Simmons’ question continues to cast its shadow over my life. “Is what you’re doing worth giving your life for?” The question permeated my life from the moment he asked it, prompting me to question myself over and over again. What is it that was guiding my life? Was it worth giving my life for? Did it hold the power that could shift the world on its axis? Did I have the boldness to hope for genuine justice? And did I possess the strong, resilient power of hope necessary to fully engage?

It is a privilege to hold something robust and resilient called hope, which has the power to shift the world on its axis.

― Krista Tippett, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living

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