As part of our Vital Church Initiative a task force was convened to write a new vision statement for our church. The task force participated in three visioning workshops with our coach, Naomi Garcia, and the congregation. The workshops were open to everyone. At the conclusion of the third workshop a number of possible vision statements were suggested. The vision writing team considered all of those as well as some of their own. Ultimately they came up with this vision statement for our church: “Daring each other to love God and our neighbor.”
According to Webster’s some possible definitions for “dare” are: To have enough courage or confidence to do something; not to be afraid to do something; to do something that people are often afraid to do; to tell someone to do something, especially as a way of showing courage. The word “dare” is derived from the same Greek root as the word for courage. An alternate use of “dare” offered by Webster’s is a challenge to prove one’s courage. Some people were perplexed by the word “dare.” Alternatives such as “challenge” or “encourage” have been offered. I am inclined to think, though, that daring each other to love God and our neighbor calls for us to live out of a place of imaginative boldness.
In Hear Now the Parable, Dr. Bernard Brandon Scott, commenting on the story of the Good Samaritan says, “All cultures, modern and ancient, draw boundaries between themselves and others, whether it is a matter of defending their turf or building iron curtains. Greeks called everyone who did not speak Greek a barbarian, and Jews divided the world between themselves and the Gentiles. The temptation to draw the line, to dare someone to step across it, seems to be a universal human phenomenon.” (Scott, 1989, p. 189)
Jesus dared to dine with tax collectors, prostitutes and other “sinners.” Jesus dared to quote the Law of Moses and then take it to another level on his own authority. Jesus dared to heal on the Sabbath. He dared to place people before law and doctrine. Jesus dared to call experts in religion hypocrites. He dared to offer healing and acceptance to the outcast and unclean. Jesus dared people to love their enemies and pray for their persecutors. He dared people to turn the other cheek rather than retaliate.
Jesus dared to cross many religious and social boundaries. We sometimes fail to notice how many boundaries he obliterated. If Jesus were only preaching good news to the poor, telling people to pay taxes and encouraging sinners to be good, nobody would have ever crucified him. In the Roman Empire, and sometimes still today, people are threatened when they dare to cross boundaries. Daring to really love God and our neighbor is not for the faint of heart.