Over and over the gospel messes me up and straightens me out. I find that urban ministry with its economic, racial and geographical boundary crossing has me constantly in between people. Those on our staff, those in the community, those in our support base, those in churches, those in community leadership -- all of these are constantly at odds between groups and even among groups.
I find it easy to pity myself when I find myself, yet again, between people. And in that spot my only hope is Christ and the power of his transformation through the gospel. In particular I find Matthew's rendition of the gospel and its implications helpful to me as told through the parable of the unmerciful servant.
The forgiveness experienced by the initial servant (more than he could ever repay in his life) is to be given in kind to those around him. Yet, he finds it hard to do -- as do most of us! If we really understand that lesson we would also understand the apostle John who wrote: "by this we know love, that he laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for our brother". 1 John 3
So not only should I work with people to live out this radical reconciliation, but I should also live that in my constant "in-betweenness". I think that for most people it is far easier to imagine taking "the big hit" for someone when there is a crisis than to actually die to our selves and lay down our lives when it means we will be late for an appointment, or misunderstood, or needing to patiently wait for someone to come around, or just being able to live with people who don't agree with us. Its the simple things that require forgiveness and persistent love that we find most challenging about the gospel.
I can't comprehend staying in urban ministry without the gospel constantly reminding me of my need for grace and calling me to show it to others.