. . . while the gospels instruct followers of Christ to help the poor, oppressed, maligned, mistreated, sick, and those most in need of help, Christians in America have largely supported measures that have rejected refugees, refused aid to immigrants, cut social services to the poor, diminished help for the sick, fueled xenophobia, reinforced misogyny, ignored racism, stoked hatred, reinforced corruption, and largely increased inequality, prejudice, and fear. Stephen Mattson
This Sojourners article about American Christianity shares a difficult truth. One
of the sermons in the stash I carry around the country is called “What Do We Love More Than Jesus?” and the reality is that we love quite a few things – often ridiculous things – more than we love Jesus. Stephen Mattson notes that “it appears that the sole purpose of (American) Christianity is to selfishly protect people’s own self-interests instead of sacrificially serving others.”
Before we turn on each other or continue to act self-righteously (“my brand of Christianity is holier than yours“) I am beginning to see these anxious days with new eyes. The daily news that brings deep anguish to many of us (e.g. The Wall, reviving the Keystone XL pipeline and Dakota Access pipelines, deporting undocumented workers, closing doors to refugees) also brings opportunity.
“Conservative Christians” and “Progressive Christians” alike are united in concern for Syrian refugees. Building a wall instead of a bridge seems especially un-Christlike. Having a leader who bragged about assaulting women has united both women and men who are ashamed to call such a person President.
But there is hope. This could be the time when we step up. This could be the disaster that moves us to get off our sofas and go volunteer or organize or reach out to just one vulnerable person.
I know it feels overwhelming. I know that systemic change takes a long time. But if we are not moved to stand up in the name of Jesus now, we never will.
In the words of Stephen Mattson:
These presidential orders, which will refuse help to many of the world’s most vulnerable individuals, are what many Christians voted for. This is the fruit of their political labor, but it’s not the Fruit of the Spirit. In fact, love, joy, peace, happiness, and self-control are notably absent from the current administration.
If we do nothing else, we can intentionally choose to love, to seek joy, to offer peace, to share happiness, and to control ourselves in the name of Jesus Christ. We can show the world what it looks like to follow Jesus.
Because God is God and we are not, it’s quite possible that God can use even walls and “extreme vetting” to revitalize the Church. Things are so dark for so many these days that there becomes no place to turn but to The Holy.
God can use even these days. And God will definitely use us.
Image from LaSalle Street Church in Chicago.