Becoming Response-Able Learning to Be Responsible
The world that we enjoy is nourished by God’s loving presence. When we appreciate that with gratitude, we are liberated to love God and free to serve the world with gladness. All humans are made in the image of God, who calls them to work with him in creation. We find our true, caring selves as we respond to this call. However, in order to act responsibly, we must know what we are doing and what the assumptions and implications are. Aristotle affirmed human nature to be essentially curious: we want to learn. Christians go deeper; they believe our natural curiosity to experiment and inquire is God-given. God endows us with the talent we need to accept the responsibility to which he calls us. We can learn; by so doing, we become more response-able—that is, better equipped with new knowledge—and therefore liberated to act more wisely and responsibly. However, in order to learn, we must love what we want to understand, whether that is ourselves, another person, our environment, or God. No wonder Christians are grateful to God, not only for the creation, but for their capacity to learn about it and to find it lovable and beautiful. We are free to live in the image of God, to share God’s character, and to give ourselves to the world’s flourishing.
There are implications here for professional persons who are called to take responsibility for themselves, their clients, and the common good. In order to do so with integrity, they require knowledge and experience based on experiment and inquiry. The responsible professional will pursue knowledge and take the risk of acting upon it with appropriate courtesy as a steward of the world’s well-being. In this chapter, I explore some implications of these themes; the meaning of creation, the freedom of love, the experience of community with its diversity, the glue of language, and the promise of wholeness.