Seek Out Good Trouble

September 08, 2020 • Rev. Nicole Caldwell-Gross

You may be asking “what is good trouble?”. To understand what good trouble is, you have to start with Representative John Lewis and his long legacy of good trouble. Up until his death this year he continued to engage in good trouble. Days before he entered the hospital for the last time in July at the age of 80, he joined the protesters in the streets and penned a final letter to the nation to be released after his death. He was known the world over as the “conscious”of the United States Congress in which he had served for decades, as a bloodied Marcher for civil rights in Selma and as the closing speaker of the March on Washington.

Hollywood movies, books and articles have all chronicled the iconic moments of his life and there are many, many to choose from. Yet, when he was asked what were the most significant moments of his life he did not talk about Bloody Sunday on Edmund Pettus Bridge, being the youngest speaker at the March on Washington or even being presented with the Presidential medal of freedom.  

What John Lewis thought mattered most in his life was not any one of his past actions but rather the actions others would take because of his example. These sentiments were expressed at the graduation ceremonies where he was often called as a commencement speaker. He would rouse the next generation of justice workers not to be “like him” but to do better, do more and find their own “good trouble” to get into.

I believe this is what Jesus means in John 14:12 when he tells his disciples that they will go on “to do greater things than he did.” This seems odd coming from someone who calmed storms with a few words, gave sight to the blind or was resurrected from the dead. Reading Jesus’ long list of accomplishments-it may seem as if we should give up right now! For what could we do that’s greater than any of these things?

Well- I’d say we can do these things and more:

We can calm the storms of racial division in our country by approaching experiences different from our own with open hearts and open minds. By truly seeking to learn and understand.

We can give sight to the blind spots of our own privilege and seek practical ways to dismantle racism in our churches, schools, workplaces and systems of government. 

We can resurrect God’s biblical call to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8)” 
In other words, we can get into the good trouble Jesus got into and Rep. John Lewis modeled so bravely in his life . 

So my question for you is: What good trouble are you going to get into today? 

May it calm storms, give sight to the blind and resurrect Jesus’ call for justice. 

Rev. Nicole Caldwell-Gross