On Authenticity

I’m just beginning this book called Small Things with Great Love: Adventures in Loving Your Neighbor by Margot Starbuck (is that an author-y name or what?). While I’m only about 50 pages in, much of her commentary has resonated with me as relevant and true of my own life. Just as the title implies, she urges readers to use our current circumstances to reach out to those who we normally wouldn’t. To use small interactions to show love to those pushed to the outer rim of society, whether they live down the block or in another nation. In speaking about how to reconcile two seemingly different worlds, she writes this searingly honest paragraph:

Even my impulse to “serve” is tainted with my own twisty radicalized motives. Despite the fact that I’m quick to invoke Jesus’ name, there can be a wily dynamic at work by which my “service” to “the poor” still allows me to feel superior to those I’m serving. It’s a mess, right? In my own heart, this devilish bind can precipitate one of two things. It can paralyze me so that, stuck, I stay trapped in my privilege-ghetto, segregated from so many that God loves. But acknowledging the mess can also drive me to prayer when I recognize that the tainted kind of power I do have – by virtue of race and education and affluence – only interferes with, rather than lubricates, authentic kingdom relationships. Then, to get unstuck, I cry out “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). This is pretty much how it goes.

We are, undoubtedly, a complicated people. I especially appreciate how she references the privileged power as being a hindrance in developing relationships with people considered to be on the fringe. Because let’s face it; sadly, the woman speaks truth.

How do we begin to create these new, authentic relationships? How do we stay genuine when we know that some will look upon us weirdly, while others will view us with admiration? Where, then, does that put our motivation?

Lord, help us. 


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