In life, there are moments when the static of life suddenly stops, and things become clear. The clamouring noise of the world is such that these moments seem few and far between, so it’s always a good idea to listen very closely and revel in clarity while it’s there.
One such moment was recently, with the editing of my PhD research proposal. One of the questions I’ve been asking myself over and over again is ‘what is the data you are looking at?’ … I realised that although I signed on to look at the songs of Indigenous Australia, that my heart was not only in the music. My heart is to look at the disparity and the ways in which I can say sorry with more than just my lips, with my heart, and with my life, and take on the ministry of Reconciliation, as per this scripture 2 Cor 15:17-19.
… Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. [TNIV]
I really believe there is a new way of being Australian, that admits our insecurity about land and identity, but also recognizes that God is the One who holds the world in His hands, and it cannot be wrestled or demanded from Him, or kept from others. It must be shared. A lesson, incidently, that I am learning from my new Aboriginal friends. I believe that the historical stories do matter for the people who have been oppressed, and their telling is important – as is the common values of life my parents taught me – apologizing when I’ve contributed to a wrong no matter how big my part, seeing everyone as equal, and doing the best I can with what I have.
So, in evaluating my PhD, I began to evaluate my life.
I don’t want to be a Christian singer who does mission on the side, as a way of feeling less guilty about the poor. I don’t want to sell CDs and also do ministry. I want the parts of my life to be together, a unity, a complete part. If writing songs and recording music is not a part of the ministry, then I don’t want to do it.
I have decided I am not a .com, I am a .org.
By this, I mean that my new website has three new little letters at the end, of which I’m proud (www.tanyariches.org). I’ve still got the rights to the .com site, but I’m not going to use it beyond September. Maybe it won’t change much, but it’s a new philosophy I’m walking out, and there are few models that have my mix of academics, music and mission…. I don’t make music for radio, or pubs or dance clubs, I make it for church, and for a variety of other people who think various things about God. I believe in all churches both Western and non-Western, and the areas of the world that do not get the big tours or celebrity Christians to come through and peddle wares. I must be very careful, because I honor those leaders who truly follow Jesus Christ – but I see that the temptation is too large to leave the message of Jesus Christ out of church, and out of worship. And yet, of course, I too want to have a sustainable ministry, and I want to be able to buy a house one day with a space in the backyard for a doghouse.
So maybe it can’t be called an epiphany, more a rebalancing. Maybe it’s only small, but it’s a decision that will affect how I do things in the future rather than a rejection of all that has gone before. I’m not so young anymore that I think I can run away from my past either good or bad, and I’m not so stupid as to think that my non-Christian friends are blinded by a bit of paint, some great music and young preachers – as a Christianized nation, there is a history to the church and all it means in Australia. Returning to Jesus’ heart, ministry and passions is my goal. And if there are other people who are more .org than .com then I’m really pumped to hear about your thoughts and how you’ve navigated that step in whatever area you are working – pastoral ministry, education, music, development, academics… I’d love to hear from you and please know, you’re not alone.