While I, perhaps dangerously, assume that everyone has heard of the 3 R’s of education – which for at least a couple obvious reasons never included spelling – I am not sure everyone has heard me talk about the 4 C’s. I have, though, been sharing them for over a year. And, upon more recent reflection, I believe they will be just as relevant years after the pandemic is history because they speak of ageless values for the people of God in Christ Jesus.
The first C is CARING, which starts with God caring for us. I think you know the promise: “Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5.7) St. Paul builds off this as he writes, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” (Ephesians 4.32) When you add “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2.4) and “Carry one another’s burdens, in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6.2), we see how caring for our neighbor regularly trumps claiming our own rights. We may easily complain about things we have not liked during the pandemic, but not a single one justifies not caring for ALL our neighbors (see Luke 10.29-37)
To caring we add CAUTIOUS. Some antonyms of cautious are careless, dull, inattentive, negligent, and thoughtless. To these I would add reckless, impulsive, and hasty. We live in a very reactionary society where the opportunity to exchange opposing ideas is often lost due to emotional responses and personal attacks. How much better our world might be if you and I would instead listen to our God, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46.10) in many of those situations?
However, this does not mean that we live in fear. Rather we are called to be COURAGEOUS. Go ahead and try to count the number of times in the Bible the people of God are told, “Fear not.” The word to us is the same as the word to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1.9) Care, caution, and courage may not specifically be listed as gifts of the Holy Spirit, but they clearly compliment one another as we live as Christ’s light in the world.
The 4th C is CREATIVITY. What is the first story in the Bible? “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1.1) How does that story conclude? “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1.27) The reptilian part of our brain (amygdala) serves its purpose, but it is the left prefrontal cortex that sets humans physically apart from the rest of creation. We are designed by God to think outside of the box – and to trust him to know when and how we should. Artistically I do not have a creative bone in my body, but I have found great joy in experiencing how this pandemic has pushed me out of my rut of routine and into new ways of doing the same old things.
Caring … Cautious … Courageous … Creative … this is our Calling in Christ. And my oh my, how freeing this calling is! It frees us from the slavery of selfishness, fear, and anger, as it then opens the doorway to fresh new relationships and opportunities. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5.22-23) matures … and God is able to use us as agents in transforming his world. “For we were called to freedom – not to use our freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love to serve one another. For the whole law (God’s will) is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Galatians 5.13-14)
I will always hold reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic above spelling, but, in my book, not even those legendary 3 R’s can beat the 4 C’s of Caring, Cautious, Courageous, and Creative. But that is my book. What does yours have to say?