Lately the blog has sat a bit dormant. This is for a few reasons: 1) We’re busy, and writing frequently gets back-burnered. 2) I’ve written a lot on the topics of Purple Door, and feel a bit inadequate sometimes to add to the larger conversation and 3) I think I have placed a burden on myself to say something, new, intriguing and profound every time I put something out there.
I think the third has been the biggest hangup. I have about seventeen half finished blog posts that I can’t seem to get right. I constantly think that it has to be just right, with every possible hole and angle covered. Just today I realized that’s not the case. Today, I want to communicate one simple thing: Jesus must be the source for what we do.
I often burden myself with knowing everything there is to know about job training, non-profit, for-profit, coffee, marketing, the theology behind what we do, finances, and any other field Purple Door interacts with. I take a look at the list of the areas of expertise that need to be known in order to do this thing called Purple Door perfectly, and I think, “What am I doing? How did I get into something that I know so little about? I guess I need to educate myself and prove that I am educated about such topics.” And as I start learning, reading, and asking questions, I do learn more, and get better with various areas of running Purple Door; but then something changes–an employee does something unexpected, sales trends change, a new coffee arrives, a new point of view on Biblical Justice is presented–and I have to reshape what I think, and how I function. And so this is the dance I am bound to, and, in a sense, the dance that we are all bound to. We’re constantly reevaluating, changing, adjusting. If we’re not careful, we can forget who we are, where we’re headed and what we’re about and dance in a way that is incongruent with the music being played. But if we just stand there, and refuse to dance, holding on to what we know we will miss out on something incredibly beautiful.
So, I take a step back. I look at the lists of expertise, I look at the skills and knowledge necessary to run Purple Door “perfectly” and I realize that I can’t. I can’t possibly know all these things. I can’t predict how employees will act. I can’t predict what is going to happen in the neighborhood surrounding the shop. I can’t do this perfectly and I will make mistakes. There are too many unknowns, too many variables, and it is dizzying. I realize there is a constant in it all. Something that can be a central touch stone. Someone.
Jesus is the constant. Jesus is what makes this dance possible. He makes the dance beautiful. Sure, we’ll step off beat on occasion, and even step on our partner’s foot, but that’s okay. It’s still a beautiful dance, and Jesus makes sure that we can dance and not get overwhelmingly dizzy. With Jesus there we adjust to the music being played, we learn new dances, we become better out on the dance floor. He instructs, challenges, brings joy, and helps us be better. All of this is driven by his character and nature–that of love. Dancing is most fun when it’s with someone you love and you know loves you. Such is life with Jesus.
The person of Jesus–all that he is–challenges us to be better, and equips us for the task at hand. As we get to know Jesus we get to know His love. We get in touch with God’s vision for the world, and He invites us to play an active role in that vision. As we look to emulate the character of Jesus we delve into a source of Love that is not our own, that enables us and equips us to love more fully. Live more joyfully. To be the beloved of God. We get to be Jesus to all we encounter. Jesus also inspires creativity, and the ability to know how the Creator has fashioned us as individuals. Jesus invites us to engage the world in love, just as he did, but his desire is for us to do it in a way that is authentic to the way God has created us.
In the process of engaging with the mission of Purple Door I’ve discovered personal areas of strength as well as personal areas of weakness. There are some dances I’m good at and some I’m just awful at, and that’s okay, because I trust my dance partner. I’ve seen God engage the world through me, and through others. I’ve seen Love take root and begin to grow and transform. I’ve seen God work in ways I could never predict.
And so as I continue to stand back, I look at the different areas of Purple Door, and I see that Jesus is in every area that is thriving, and the areas that are struggling, they typically are not reflecting the Love of God as found in the person of Jesus.
So, in all of this, at Purple Door we strive to be as Jesus was in this world: Fully committed to love, and as an outpouring of that, committed to do what needs to be done to grow the presence of the Kingdom in the place that we have been planted. Sometimes that looks like a meeting with an employee speaking value into their life,sometimes it means making a great coffee for a customer, and sometimes it simply means paying bills. No matter what it is, we pray we are able to make the Love of God known in new and beautiful ways to all we encounter. We pray that the way that we engage in this dance inspires onlookers to join in the dance; to enjoy the music and trust the partner and not be afraid to make a mistake here and there.