Down and Dirty

Henry Ward Beecher spoke of the morality of Christian faith like this: “Religion means work. Religion means work in a dirty world. Religion means peril… Religion means transformation. The world is to be cleaned by somebody; and you are not called of God if you are ashamed to scour and scrub.”Sometimes we make too little of our faith. We let it become too tiny, too private, too pious. But the Christianity of the Bible is a deep Christianity. When we think about what Jesus went through, there are a lot of words that could be used: tremendous! incredible! overwhelming! awesome! But when we look at the cross of Jesus one word that can never be used is “easy”! To call it that would be a sacrilege!

The same is true for an “easy” Christianity that buttons itself up in the coziness of warm feelings and private thoughts, without clothing others and acting on principles of moral responsibility. We would do well to call such an attitude sin.

Lee Sharpe remembers a childhood incident that made a permanent impact on his life. It was the spring of the year and his father wanted to get the garden ready for planting. When he took his hoe and rake from the shed, both needed repair. He dropped them off at Trussel’s blacksmith shop saying, “Whenever you can get around to it, I’d appreciate it if you could fix these. I know it’s not much, and I hate to bother you with it.”

Mr. Trussel said it was no problem; he’d look after it. Several days later he called to say that the tools were fixed and ready. Mr. Sharpe could pick them up anytime.

Lee went with his father that afternoon to get them. Mr. Trussel had done a fine job. But when Lee’s Dad asked, “How much do I owe you?”,  Mr. Trussel shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Don’t worry about it. My pleasure.”

That didn’t sit right with Mr. Sharpe. He was a fair man and wanted to pay a fair price for a fair hour of work. He took out his wallet and tried to shove some money into Mr. Trussel’s hands. The blacksmith, however, adamantly refused. He held up his hands and said, “Sid, can’t you let a man do something now and then  just to stretch his soul?”

Young Lee carried that incident with him for the rest of his life. It was, for him, a vision of integrity: Mr. Trussel spoke and lived the faith he believed.

Like Mr. Trussel, Church Leadership Center supports leaders who are persons of integrity and grace. As with the words of Henry Ward Beecher, CLC participants serve from the bottom up rather than from the top down. They are typically grass-roots ministers. Their calling and service is from within and to the life of a specific congregation.

At CLC, we are passionate about coming alongside leaders who want to grow, want to reach, want to stretch, and want to develop habits of responsive and responsible Christianity. Contact us today, and let’s begin a new partnership.

With thanks to Dr. Wayne Brouwer for this article. He is a board member and theological editor of CLC.