Here is my challenge as a pastor: I am called, in many ways, to create spaces in which people might feel unsettled.
And, this is a weird calling.
Because, truthfully, I don’t like being unsettled. I don’t like being provoked. I don’t like be convicted or confronted. But, what I also know is that this is what the Gospel does: It unsettles and convicts us.
And, nobody enjoys this.
Now, there are always those people who want the “harsh truth” and more “conviction.” But, they want that for other people, not for themselves. Because, truthfully, being unsettled, challenged, and convicted – if it’s actually happening – is not an easy or welcomed thing.
But, it is a needed thing.
Because, the work of the Gospel and the Spirit is one of conviction. It’s one of challenge. It’s one that unsettles us, so that we will embrace a different way of living – one that looks and loves more like Jesus.
Jesus says, “When the Holy Spirit comes, he will come and convict us.” (John 16:8). Not to make us feel dirty, worthless, or bad. But, to confront us with the ways in which we have unthinkingly adopted the ways of the world around us.
Paul says, “Do not let the world mold you into its own image.” (Romans 12:2) And, Paul says this because we get shaped, molded, and formed by the world – which is why we need to become unsettled at some points. Because, we need to be formed differently.
All of this brings me back to what I started with – that my calling is, in some ways, a weird one. Because, while maintaining the gentleness, humility, and grace of Jesus, I’m also called to create spaces in which the Holy Spirit can unsettle us, speak to us, challenge us, and even re-direct us.
Archbishop Oscar Romero writes, “A church that doesn’t provoke any crisis, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed – what gospel is that?”
And, he is right.
So, here is my challenge today: Pay attention to what unsettles you.
Let’s not seek to unsettle and convict others, but to pay attention to the activity of the Spirit in our own lives. To lean into that unsettling and uncertainty. To pay attention to where conviction, and even self-righteousness, rise up. Because, as I have been paying attention to my own life, that’s often where the Spirit is actually working.
And, if the Spirit is working there, that’s where we need to be working too.