In last week’s Porous Church column, “Making it Explicit”, I reflected on the importance of being explicit about my faith and my doubts. Erica Jacobs-Perkins, a member of our young adult community who has left Montreal for the next steps in her journey, sent me her thoughts and has agreed to let me share it with you.
“The church, as the Body of Christ, is called upon to find ways to be explicit about who Christ is, what we know of God, and why any of that matters—and all of us, lay and ordained, need to participate in that work.”
But how can we participate in that work outside of the church? How can I participate in that work? I’m new to Christianity, new to the professional world, new to adulthood, and there are days when I can’t figure out how to feed and dress myself, let alone how to integrate my faith into the rest of my life. Although I hope all of these things will get easier with time, I know they won’t without some help from me and so I have to approach the issue head-on. It is exhausting to balance working in a secular sphere with sharing the Gospel, without a doubt. But the work I feel called to do as a musician is outside the church (most of the time), and so I have to make it happen.
One possible solution, certainly not an easy route but perhaps the most evident, is to share implicitly what I know of God through my chosen profession and outside of it. To live by Christ’s example, to love my neighbors whether they make it easy or not (especially when it’s not), to find God in beauty and pain and even boredom. I can be aware of God’s presence while I’m teaching a particularly difficult violin lesson, without telling my student about it. Playing a concert might be an opportunity for a deep spiritual connection for me, even if it’s not for my audience. (But it often is, whether they know it or not, which is part of what makes what I do so wonderful!)
But it isn’t enough. Keeping my mouth shut isn’t a satisfying alternative to the freedom to share blessings and doubts and prayers and thanksgivings. Unfortunately, the reality of the world we inhabit is that constantly and loudly sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ would, at best, make me seem a bit eccentric and at worst, lose me a job or get me in some other kind of trouble.
So instead, I have to find ways to quietly but still constantly share the good news. I have to remember to look for God in that lesson or concert. I have to be explicit about my intentions with myself, even if I don’t share my thoughts with every single person around me. And, perhaps most importantly for my own sanity, I have to remember to find other people who are looking for God in the same kind of way, for people I can share those thoughts with. I have to find musicians who do want to talk about the way God is at work in our lives and our vocations, and how we can do what we are called to do both as musicians and as Christians.