Only Connect

Editor’s Note: Chad is one of our interns this summer at Antioch. He’s a grad student at George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

By Guest Blogger: Chad Mustain

“Only Connect” is a phrase from a book I recently finished called The Fabric of Faithfulness by Steven Garber. Before I go any further, let me first back up. My name is Chad and I am part of the Antioch Church community for this season of life. I am a student at George W. Truett Theological Seminary, part of Baylor University in Waco, TX. One aspect of the M.Div program at Truett is to participate in a mentoring experience connected to an area of future work. Justice is at the core of God’s character and justice is at the core of both Ken and Antioch Church. I highly resonate with participating in God’s mission of justice in the world and am blessed to share in this season of life with Antioch Church.

OK, now let’s return to Garber’s book. The subtitle of The Fabric of Faithfulness is “weaving together belief and behavior” with a particular focus on the highly formative university years of college students. Steven Garber, is a gifted story-teller, recounting story after story throughout the pages of his book. One such story he shares is from the movie Howard’s End focusing on the character Mr. Wilcox. To make a long story short Mr. Wilcox has been shown grace by his wife for a wrong he committed, but then fails to extend this same grace to a family member who finds herself bearing the consequences of poor choices. Simply put, Mr. Wilcox struggles with what many of us do and what Garber defines as “moral blindness” (Garber, 123).

What Mr. Wilcox fails to do is “[t]o ‘only connect’ what he says he believes about the world with how he lives in the world” (Garber, 124). Don’t we all? The tension of connecting what we believe about the world and how we live in the world is at the heart of a life that pursues justice.

The sad truth is that for many Westerners injustices go on all around us because we chose the path of ignorance and selfishly view living justly as an inconvenience. We are guilty of wanting what we want, when we want it, at the cheapest possible cost to us, regardless of the hell it puts our fellow man or woman through (or animals for that matter). This injustice must change and it begins with you and me.

So, if the change begins with you and me, where exactly do we start with such a challenging and complex issue?  Garber suggests we begin with forming “habits of the heart”. These habits include redefining our worldview, finding a mentor, and being part of a community. He writes:

“[f]orming a worldview that can make sense of my life in the ever-secularizing, ever-pluralizing world, of my beliefs about God and truth, the human condition, good and evil, joy and sorrow; finding a mentor who embodies these convictions, as the truest truths are taught and learned only as we look over the shoulder and through the heart of someone who shows that the words can be made flesh, that the ideas can have legs; and making the choice time and again to link up, heart and mind, with a community of kindred spirits, people who together are committed to a coherent life where liturgy, life, learning and labor is understood as seamless” (Garber, 197).

So while this book speaks to the formative university years (ages 18-25) as student’s transition from adolescence into adulthood, I believe its truths reach a broader audience. It speaks to those in education, those with a position to teach, those who desire to form and shape others. It speaks to people of all ages and backgrounds in North America who have access to knowledge and to education. Garber himself admits to being shaped by speakers who acknowledge “the relationship [between] knowledge and responsibility” (Garber, 46) and cites Edward Long Jr., “education dares not become merely the avenue to success; it must be the gateway for responsibility” (Garber, 92).

It is my opinion that Westerners tend to be the most self-absorbed people on the planet. We use knowledge and education for our own success. It is time that we viewed knowledge and education not as an avenue to success, but as responsibility.  In fact, it is an injustice if we do otherwise. It is time to connect the things we know, the things we believe, the things Jesus calls us to, with the way we live.  In the midst of my own mess, brokenness, and selfishness, I desire to be about the things of Christ. May we use our knowledge and education to day in and day out participate in Micah 6:8 and Luke 4:18-19. How might we help create a different kind of tomorrow if we were to “only connect” what we believe with how we live?

All quotes taken from:
Garber, Steven. The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior. Downers Grove, IL.: IVP Books, 2007.

Chad Mustain is a Resident Chaplain, Baylor University; M. Div candidate at George W. Truett Theological Seminary.



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