THE MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGE
This past weekend I was in Toronto for a conference called The Evolving Church:Kingdom Economy. The conference is put on by a friend of mine and some of his college buddies. The presenters at the conference were made up of an array of unique communicators. From the contemporary-Christian-singer-songwriter-ex-rock-star-turned-social-justice-advocate to deep-thinking-academic-theologians, the speakers unpacked ideas surrounding the question “What does it look like to order our lives around the Kingdom of God?”
Overall, it was a great experience. I was challenged and encouraged by several of the sessions and workshops. I especially enjoyed Becky Garrison, Chris Seay, and Joyce Rees. Though if I’m honest, some of the content was hard for me to follow. Not to take anything away from the more academic presenters, I think I would have rather read their talks at my own pace, to let them sink in. At times, the 30 minute barrage of big words was a bit overwhelming.
One of the main reasons I decided to make the trip to the Great White North was because it would give me the opportunity to hear from one of my favorite authors, Brennan Manning. Unfortunately, Mr. Manning was dealing with some health issues that kept him from attending the conference. The folks at the conference did manage to set up a Skype call to interview him for a few minutes. For me, this simple three question interview was the highlight of the event.
Even though it was apparent that Mr. Manning was not in good health, his presentation came through like a lighthouse in a fog. The host asked him, “If you could share one thing with the church what would it be?” He answered without missing a beat, “Let yourself be loved by God. Not as you should be but as you are.” Simple. Profound. Life-giving.
It is with this foundation, the love of God, that everything else must find it’s meaning. Whether it’s feeding and clothing hungry children or ordering life around caring for Creation we must begin with love. When I was beginning to feel overwhelmed at the conference, I was reminded of this most important message. I am loved. Even if I’m not as deep of a thinker as David Dark or William Cavanaugh, I am loved. Even if I don’t know much about Canadians or Hockey, I am loved. As I learn to recieve this unconditional, all-consuming love of God, I will be able to rest in who I truly am. I think you will, too.
Thanks for the reminder, Mr. Manning. You have been a blessing in my life.