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Pastor’s Epistle – August 2015

Absolutely Fearless, Absurdly Happy, and Always in Trouble

Dan West was the founder of Heifer Project International (now called Heifer International) and he was instrumental in developing many Brethren Service Programs in the twentieth century. West once said that people who follow Christ should be “absolutely fearless, absurdly happy, always in trouble.” This is an interesting quote. It certainly gains our attention. So what does it mean for us to be absolutely fearless, absurdly happy, and always in trouble as we follow Christ?

Being a disciple of Jesus is not easy. There are many times when following Christ and helping to build God’s kingdom here on this earth requires that we be fearless. Sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zones and have a sense of fearlessness to do what Christ wants us to do.
At the same time, there are perhaps occasions when we engage in the ministry of the church and take ourselves too seriously. Another thing this quote is telling us is that it is important to have a sense of humor and to have fun while serving Christ. Whether or not we are “absurdly” happy is then up to us.
What about the last phrase of the quote? No one likes to be in trouble. The Gospels tell us that Jesus was frequently in trouble with the religious leaders of his time. It seems like Paul was always in trouble as he spent a good deal of time in prison for proclaiming the gospel. Following Christ may mean that we will have to rattle a few cages and shake a couple of trees and see what falls out. When we do this, some will not be happy and we will then be in trouble. As a denominational leader in the Church of the Brethren, Dan West understood this and I can relate to it as a pastor as well. Often when I am ready to perform a ministerial task, I will say to myself or others, “Let’s see what kind of trouble I can get into today.” When I say this, I am not intentionally trying to upset people, but I know if I do my job correctly, difficult situations and trouble spots will arise from time to time.
Dan West made his mark on the Church of the Brethren in the twentieth century and he helped the Church of the Brethren make its mark on the world. And he did it by being absolutely fearless, absurdly happy, and always in trouble. May these be words of wisdom and inspiration for us as we propel the church forward, peacefully, simply, and together.

Pastor Dave

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