… from the perspective of hope, in many ways our age represents an unprecedented opportunity for Christians. The collapse of Christendom over the past few centuries has created a potentially more egalitarian, authentic and pluralistic religious world. Charles Mathewes in this excellent article
[Seriously. Read Charles Matthewes’ article in the Post. Also start reading everything that Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons writes about religion. His insights are refreshing in light of what most of the press writes about people of faith.]
I am a white Christian who would call myself evangelical (as in the Greek word Greek euangelion, meaning “the good news” or the “gospel”) except for the fact that the word “evangelical” has been hijacked. I am a Presbyterian Christian which means my ecclesiastical history includes the heroic and the abominable. I am a Baby Boomer which means that most Church Members are my age or older.
But I am also preposterously hopeful about the Church. Church makes me crazy. But it also makes me deeply excited.
So here’s what one White Christian Lady believes (and I’m not the only one.)
I believe that the Bible is an equal opportunity offender in terms of political parties.
I believe that God created and loves us and the people we love and all the people we don’t love. If you have a hard time loving LGBTQ people, for example, remember that Jesus died for that tall, red-headed Transgender woman in front of you in the grocery store line, as well as that brown kid named Mohammed and that grandmother with the bindi. The broad and beautiful diversity of God’s people is a blessing we take for granted – which is a sin.
I believe that the reason the angels keep saying, “Be not afraid” is because God knows that fear is our go-to reaction on most days. We are afraid of the unknown. We are afraid of change. We are afraid about what people will think.
I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ can be mean, ridiculous, complicit, and destructive. But it is also the best way to connect as the people of God. At our best, the Church is generous, gracious, creative, life-affirming and the conduit through which God makes people whole again.
I believe that Jesus was born and died to show us what love looks like. Sometimes love looks angry. Sometimes it looks confusing. But most of the time love looks something like this:
bring good news to the poor,
proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
and let the oppressed go free,
[Note: This was Jesus’ first sermon and you can find the whole thing here.]
I believe that human beings are charged with holding each other accountable. God did not create us to bully each other, cheat each other or destroy each other. Mature followers of Jesus welcome this accountability.
I believe this is a great time to be the Church and we are a better Church when we are devoted to
- being real (most of us are drenched in hot-messedness in spite of appearances),
- being humble (we need to learn even from those we have previously denigrated),
- being open to engage with other faiths (which makes our own faith stronger), and
- being committed to looking more like our communities which means looking less White. (I’m looking at you, my Mainline friends.)
As White supremacy wanes (and it will wane, my friends), we in the White Church will take this opportunity to learn about our neighbors who are not White, not in our particular political party, and/or not in our socioeconomic class. These are fighting words, I realize. But – finally:
I believe that love will ultimately win. We can participate in this movement to love in the likeness of Christ. Or we can watch the Church we have known and loved wallow in survival mode.
The world tells us to be afraid. God keeps sending messengers who tell us not to be afraid. I hope to side with the angels.
Image is The Field of Angels by Rod Moorhead in the Whitney Plantation, Wallace, Louisiana. “The field of Angels is a section of the slave memorial dedicated to 2,200 Louisiana slave children who died before their third birth date and documented in the Sacramental Records of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.” I also believe every one of those children and their parents are now safe. But we as the Church must not let this kind of thing happen again.