My job, so to speak, of being a Logan Square neighbor and community activist has put me in some interesting situations and last week I experienced another one. I was in a meeting where I had an identity crisis. The meeting included a lovely group of folks collaborating to care for those in need of food in our community. We each introduced ourselves and my identifying acronym was my neighborhood association; though, I felt some tension with that. Most people around the table were faith-based with their church and my motivation was really faith-based, too. However, I just did not know if I should identify myself with my church because I wanted to honor my church's theology and they do not support ordination of gay pastors. And, one of the most active churches opening it's doors in our neighborhood for a community event with our group was led by an openly gay pastor. What was I to do? It finally came to me... I decided I was going to identify myself as an individual practitioner with Christian Community Development Association from here on out in these situations. My beloved association gives me both faith-based identity and the freedom to do what God is calling me to do in His love in my neighborhood - yea!
The other tension I felt in the meeting was because I was sitting by my alderman, who's Chicago's "Chik-fil-A" alderman. I felt tension not because he blocked the chain(though our family really wanted it!); but, because I have listened to my alderman a lot. To me, it seems that part of the reason he stood against the Chik request in our community stems from a childhood justice issue. He grew up in a mixed race family in a small Midwestern town; and, it seems like he was not treated very nicely by Christians. I don't want to speak for him; but, I have heard him talk about this so many times I can see his pain and passion around justice for all. I, too, grew up in a small Midwestern town and witnessed much discrimination around polarizing culture and race issues. So, I did not want to identify as an Evangelical Christian with my church in front of him simply because I wondered if he had ever experienced any love or justice modeled by a person claiming to be an Evangelical Christian... more tension.
Many grace boundaries still abound in our faith-based world and some days it's just plain hard to be honoring, loving and at peace all at once. In part, that's why I've decided I will identify as a CCDA Christian (#iamccda) in these situations. The association gives me the freedom to be who God created me to be as a social-justice type person, modeling Christ's love in my very diverse neighborhood. And, I can still worship at the church where God has led our family to go. Is it a tension for me? - yes, again. But, we can't just put things in homogenous boxes any more in a globalized, pluralized world. So, thank you once again Christian Community Development Association for including me as an individual practitioner just trying to live different and model love as a Christ-follower in 2013!