Faith | On Taking Sides Like Jesus
Currently not able to think about anything else besides the video footage of those angry men chanting “Jews will not replace us.”My social media feeds are filled with both friends and famous people taking the side of social justice, yet I’m struggling to find the words to describe how I’m feeling. It seems like nothing I can say will make a difference but at this point, but staying quiet is completely out of the question.So I pray and I write, and then I try to figure out what it looked like when Jesus took sides.In case you’re unfamiliar, here’s a quick rundown:
Jesus regularly took a stand for people who were being mistreated. He chose the marginalized, the spit upon, the outcast, the “unlovable.”
Since we’re on the topic of intentional decisions, let’s not forget that He also chose the cross. He endured the most unthinkable pain and persecution so that love could win, and here’s the spoiler: Love DID win, and regardless of what you believe (but especially if you believe) that means we are called to be vessels of that very same love.It’s the same love that conquered death and it’s the same love that can overcome hate.So, what does that look like for a 32 year old white woman living in a safe neighborhood in a progressive state in one of the most privileged regions of the country?I’ve been fumbling around with that question for the past several days.I’ve been feeling restless and hopeless and heartbroken and complacent because I haven’t come up with any real tangible ways to help. My default setting in these situations is to get on my knees and pray my guts out, but this week I’m just not sure that it’s enough.Sure, I'm praying for the troubled leadership of our nation. Of course, and more grievously, I'm praying for the countless victims of racism and neo-nazism and elitism and any of the other ways that evil has played out in our country — this week and throughout it's history.Watching the news updates and refreshing my twitter feed makes my head spin, and when I stood up from my desk to end the workday on Tuesday — I recognized that the emotion stirring inside of me was red-hot anger, swelling up from my belly to my brim.I’m angry for my Black friends, my Jewish friends, my Mexican friends, my Muslim friends, my Korean friends... The list goes on and on. I'm angry that our nation somehow elected a president without a spine, and angry that I have very little opportunity to make a difference in how the world operates at this very moment.Here’s the thing about anger, though:It’s a VERY strong emotion. We’ve seen this play out in humanity for thousands of years. Typically viewed as a negative feeling, we’re taught from a very early age to control it, suppress it and replace it with gentleness. (Perhaps especially as women.)As I zoom out and see the full picture of my internal mind this week, I realize that I can’t feel anything BUT anger and I’m absolutely ok with that.If you’re not angry, watch this.If you’re still not angry, we cannot be friends. (And I don’t think I’ve ever publicly denounced a friend in my entire life.)
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I saw this powerful quote/photo combo the other day and have not been able to stop thinking about it ever since:
"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion..."
I happen to wholeheartedly agree, but it leaves me wondering: What happened to those torch-bearers and hate-mongers when they were tiny humans that has caused them to be filled with so much elitism and racism and vitriolic hate? They are clearly incredibly broken people, and the only thing I can think of it that they are trying to break other people as a way to recoup their pain.
The unfortunate reality is that when you take one broken side and add another broken side, all we get is a math equation that leaves us with a whole lot of brokenness.
So what the heck are we supposed to do as we watch the violence play out while it lights a fire in our bellies? What kind of impact can we make as Americans who want to put an end to these hate rallies? Is it possible to find a formula to prevent the dangerous mess of pepper spray + misplaced privilege + major political discourse?Here is the only thing I can come up with at the moment…As we see the bigots acting out from the depths of their brokenness, we are given an option — I’m imploring you to please choose responsibly. Take this opportunity to use your anger for good and make the choice to publicly and peaceably display the strength of character that is inside of you.We know that peaceful resistance is more effective than violence or temper tantrums, but peaceful resistance does not mean passivity or neutrality or meekness. It is done by acknowledging your righteous indignation and using it to drive a cause forward with strategy and intention and control.No throwing things. No hurting people. No useless name calling.Go find a local event to attend or volunteer with. Ask your state representative how you can help in your hometown. Learn from the organizations that are doing work to fight for racial justice. Invite new friends for dinner so that you can empathize with what it feels like to be in their shoes. For goodness sakes, stand up for your beliefs by defending people who are being discriminated against or attacked.Be smart. Be empathetic. Be very clear about your values and use EVERY chance that you get to love others, just the way that we are called to as children of the Most High God.I believe that the current display of division makes God angry too, by the way. We were formed in the perfect image of our Creator, and when evil occurs — when we are separated from that original intent — I’m 100% sure that it breaks the heart of The One Who Made Us.If we are going to stand up these guys, and let’s just stop there for a second: We need to stand up to these guys! We're going to need a plan that is actually MORE threatening than a sea of tiki torches and hidden AK47s. Deeper than generational hate and stronger than throngs of supremacists...Since you’ve made it this far I’m assuming you’re on board, so here is the plan:
Let's acknowledge our outrage and use it as fuel for over-the-top acts of generosity and love.
Let's use our aching hearts and prayerful hearts by pointing them toward the hope that our nation will find healing.
Let's accept the invitation to take sides like Jesus did, and let's be active and diligent as we try to bring glimpses of God's kingdom to our very broken world.
*Image pinned from here.