The Winsome Warrior

On May 4, 2019, while most of us were enjoying our annual Star Wars Day, The world lost one of Christendom's most compassionate and joyful stirrers of the fundamental evangelical pot.

Rachel Held Evans was only 37 years old when she died of brain-swelling due to an allergic reaction to antibiotics. Her death seems so unfair to those of us who loved her work. 

While President Trump blew up his Twitter feed, Rachel responded in kind with a thundering call to resist the political machine in favor of grace and ministry to the downtrodden and rejected. Her public decision to support LGBT and transgendered Christians earned her a prominent spot on the fundamental, holy-ghost hit list. 

Two things really stand out for me as I process this terrible loss.

First, RHE was so young. She had two children and a loving husband. There is nothing to the human eye that makes this untimely death make any sense. What we may not see through our grief is that people like RHE are just not long for this world. Keith Green, a pioneer of Christian music, was killed in a plane crash in July of 1982 at the apex of his ministry. Christian singer/songwriter Rich Mullins, whose music made us ponder the deeper things of the kingdom, was killed in a car accident in 1997. My personal friend, Rick Stilwell, died suddenly in 2013 at the age of 44. His legacy is captured in the hashtag, #LiveLikeRick.

But here's the thing: their untimely deaths caused their work and legacies to be elevated to reach an even wider audience. Their message of grace and hope will be read and heard by people who never even looked at it before. 

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas are in a Roman dungeon having been beaten for being Christians. In spite of their pain and imprisonment, they were singing and praising the Lord. The scripture says the other prisoners were listening. Their suffering elevated the sound of their praise. 

Second, after the deaths of people like RHE, there are always many more people taking up her mantle and furthering the message of deep grace for all people. I was extremely encouraged to know that there were people like RHE on the front lines of the battle to magnify Jesus over and above fundamental and Pharisaical church polity and dogma. 

Now that she has left us, I am honored to do my part in carrying that message of grace and divine acceptance to the world. Rest in power, winsome warrior.


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