Safe place (hospitality)
We all yearn for a safe place to raise our doubts and questions, hopes and fears. A place where we will be listened to and cared for, not judged for what we believe or have done or think about or imagine. A place where coffee or tea, a glass of wine or a simple meal can be shared in the expectation that unhurried conversation is valuable because every person bears the image of God.
Ransom Fellowship seeks to demonstrate this sort of warm welcome and civil discussion about the things that matter most. We believe that Christians are called by our Lord to be safe places for our neighbors and friends. A willingness to listen, to ask questions, and to hear the stories of others can provide opportunities for healing, deepening relationships, and reflection.
In an increasingly pluralistic society where fearfulness and fragmentation seems to splinter rather than unify, Christians should be agents of reconciliation. Our living rooms and dining table, or a corner of a coffee shop can be made a safe place where strangers are welcomed to become friends and where understanding and the warmth of personal contact is nurtured.
Since Jesus is Lord of all, the gospel speaks intelligently and creatively to every aspect of life and culture. In safe places the things that matter most can be explored and discussed, and the truth of Christ can provide hope in a world where too much hurt occurs.
In an increasingly pluralistic world there is a growing assortment of lifestyles, values, choices, and worldviews that compete for acceptance in the public square. In the busyness of life we often just react to such things, hoping our choice works out for the best.
Ransom Fellowship believes that living intentionally is more fulfilling and satisfying than merely reacting. For the Christian, discernment involves learning to think and live Christianly, where we are so steeped in the truth of God’s word in terms of our assumptions and values that we see as God sees, although imperfectly, of course. Christian discernment is a skill that can be learned, in essence applying the gospel to all of life and culture as we live out our lives in the ordinary things of daily existence.
Discernment does not mean that there is a “Christian line” on everything, nor should we depend on religious pundits to tell us what is acceptable. Discernment requires questioning things, uncovering meanings and hidden convictions and values, and exploring it in light of what God has revealed as true and righteous and glorious.
Christians can learn to be discerning in community, learning to observe with care, to ask probing questions, to explore alternatives, and to wrestle with things over time. We seek to model such discernment, to develop good questions worth asking, and to provide materials that can help believers consider what discernment includes and to grow in it.
Faithfulness in the ordinary
Ransom Fellowship is committed to the notion that God has called us to be faithful in the ordinary and routine of daily life, not to the sensational and the spectacular. Which is a good thing, because precious few of us can accomplish extraordinary things even if we try. God does extraordinary things, of course, because he is God, but we can be content to be ourselves, finite and broken people created in his image, seeking to fulfill our calling.
My ordinary is different from yours, and I may think your ordinary is quite spectacular compared to mine, but both are routine for the person who lives in them. As Christians we can help one another discover our particular calling from God—that meaningful mix of giftedness, experience, learning and passion that animates our dream of the fulfilling life in obedience to our Lord. Knowing our calling allows us to know when to say No and when to say Yes—and both are necessary so we aren’t distracted by good things that we could do but shouldn’t.
Being distracted by the huge problems facing our world is just that, a distraction. It is our belief that we can safely leave them in God’s hands and be content to be faithful in the calling he has given us. As I am faithful in my ordinary, and you are faithful in yours, God might choose to do something extraordinary.
Creation, fall, redemption, restoration
Every person has a story that expresses their view of life and reality and that shapes their choices, values, convictions and hopes. They may not have reflected on that story very much but it’s there. Our deepest convictions—whether religious or secular—define our story because every worldview is itself a narrative that explains what life and reality consists of.
Ransom Fellowship believes the most deeply satisfying story is the biblical one. It has four chapters that provide answers to the great perennial questions we all must face. Creation tells us who we are, and what life and reality is like. The Fall tells us what has gone wrong, and why the world is so broken. Redemption tells us the solution, centered in Jesus Christ who entered human history, walked into death and then out in new life. Restoration tells of the future promised kingdom that will be consummated so that heaven works backward in time, ending evil and injustice and bringing all things to their appointed end in glory.
There are alternative narratives—Buddhism, Islam, and Naturalism all are very popular today—and each answers the questions in different ways. Ransom Fellowship is convinced the Christian story is the most coherent explanation of how things actually are, and the most effective in allowing people to flourish as human beings.
Allowing the story of scripture to shape our thinking, being, feeling and doing allows us insight into how life works and provides us a foundation for being discerning in a pluralistic world. We are committed to helping Christians make this a reality.
Today it is popular to believe that meaning and significance in life can be found entirely apart from any appeal to the divine. Ransom Fellowship is not convinced this attempt is possible or that it provides satisfactory answers to the great issues of life and death, good and evil, and humankind’s deepest fears and hopes. As Christians we commend the scriptures as God’s word, and believe Christian discernment and faithfulness are impossible if God’s people are not deeply rooted in its story, thought and promise.
If life is like a great theater production, the scriptures are like our script, providing the plot of the production. Under the Holy Spirit’s dynamic direction, we indwell the story under Christ’s Lordship that encompasses all of life, culture and reality. As we make the scriptures our own, like a veteran actor who lives in the story, we find ourselves doing what is fitting to the plot even when we respond to something that is not directly mentioned in the script.
Ransom Fellowship encourages people to study the Bible inductively, learning to observe with care, to analyze with integrity, to read each text in light of the whole, and to apply with courageous creativity. God has not been silent, revealing himself in prophets, apostles and the Son. In our busy lives we cannot afford to not hear his voice, learn and obey.
Photo: Strawberry Shortcake, House Between. A welcome sign of summer when nothing tastes so good as sharing fresh strawberries with dinner guests. Strawberries picked from a local field that very day!