The Cruciform Life
When Losing Everything Brings Hope
I’m not the type of person that puts much stock in measuring success by mere profit and acquisition. I have learned that stories of loss, failure and suffering offer a more powerful scope of our salvation. Without misfortune, there is no need for hope.
Hope lets us believe that things can be different. It allows us to dream, changes our perspective; it sees the heart of potential. Hope means it’s not over yet and opens up doors for everyone!
But that also means hope needs to go to the people that are without it and that’s rarely popular. If we choose to withdraw and even centralize solely around “christian activities” and “christian people, we become the chief reason marginalization exists and we hinder hope. It means instead of staying comfortable by being around people just like you and following what’s attractive and most fashionable in the moment, we are called out to a cruciform life. We’re to be a people that have been rescued and drawn out into the world to engage its people, not withdraw from them.
Hope lives in the margins. Matter of fact, we don’t go to the margins to rescue people, we go there to find rescue.
That’s where I found my friend, Tyson. He’d been living in a world of suffering in the margins and had lost almost everything. When I met him, Tyson was 35 years old, divorced twice and sharing custody of his 8-year-old son. Tyson was struggling to make ends meet and had some deep wounds growing up. As a child, his father was accused of molesting his brother and Tyson spent most of his teenage years staying away from home. Tyson weaned himself off drugs but still wrestled with feeling like an outsider. Most people saw Tyson as the unapproachable guy with a long beard and tattoos. When I began spending time with Tyson, I was under the impression that I was going to change him, but it’s been Tyson who has changed me.
I didn’t offer Tyson charity or advice, instead I offered to be part of his life. As we shared meals, he allowed me into his story of suffering and loss. It was gut wrenching to hear tales about him having a knife thrown at him as a little boy and hiding at the library after school to stay safe. Our time around each other opened up conversation that led to the story of redemption and restoration that Jesus brings. Tyson identified with the Jesus that suffered and lost everything before resurrection. He found hope!
Tyson continues to teach me so much about the hope that’s found in the gospel even today and that losing everything can lead to hope. I’ve witnessed his son’s first communion. I’ve watched Tyson minister to his baby’s mama and I’ve been reminded that when we set up shop with the gospel of Jesus Christ and open the door for people that might normally be marginalized, Jesus walks in and brings hope to the most hopeless situations. And that’s a gospel available not just to the well educated, rich, influential and privileged people … it’s a gospel poured out for the poor, divorced, drunken, weak, disabled and unprivileged. The gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t see color or creed, it sees people in suffering in need of a savior and when we get out of its way it saves.
We could all learn something from my friend Tyson if we’re just willing to go there and stay put. That’s the cruciform life.