Manchester, Portland, Egypt, London, Kabul… Where does it end?
We like to blame all Muslims for ISIS or the Taliban when we know that’s not true. We compare them to the KKK, yet today white supremacy doesn’t walk around in a sheet they walk around with secret service agents.
I grew up with spurts of Catholicism and Methodism but my formative years were spent in the Southern Baptist church and I know exactly how dangerous white evangelicals can be.
Since becoming a Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1998, I’ve been working to spread the good news of progressive Christianity but it has not been enough. We are not doing enough to separate ourselves from violence done in Jesus’ name. We are so afraid of being perceived by others as “like them” that we hide and therefore do not show another way.
We are the disciples locked in the upper room after Jesus’s crucifixion, more afraid of the Roman Soldiers and believe we are powerless to protect ourselves.
For years Progressive Christians have fought for gay rights, women’s ordination, women’s health, anti-racism, eco-justice, and an appreciation for other faiths, all while keeping scriptural integrity and without the bullhorn type theology. But as a whole we have not done enough. It is time for us to get out of our bubbles and stand up.
We often feel that there is too much, that we have too little to contribute.
He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” -Luke 21:1-4
“All she had to live on” is a phrase that has haunted me since the beginning of my ministry. What does it mean and how does it work?
We need a faith that actually follows the teachings of Christ and the will of God. Not the false gods of prosperity we have created, but the God of love and justice, mercy and compassion. The loudest voice in our nation today are Christians who worship wealth over God.
We are called to give this world, “all we have to live on” because Christ taught us that people are more important than property, the prophets called for justice comes rolling down like a stream and we have polluted that stream with false idols and prioritizing ourselves over others and creation.
Today, here, now, is a call to discipleship. Will we be willing to put “all we have to live on” into what we believe? We will be willing to reject false teaching? Will we begin to truly understand that Christ has no hands but ours?
Are we willing to devote our lives to God and reject sin? Are we willing to stand up and claim our Christianity in the marketplaces? Are we willing to stand up to others who claim the same God and say, “I am a Christian, and God is a God of love, not hate.”
Now is not the time for random acts of kindness, but a wearing of the banner for the world to see.
Bill Maher used the “n-word” on live TV, maybe he doesn’t claim to be Christian, but Bill Sasse (the man he was talking to) is an ELCA Lutheran. The two white men chuckle about the “slip of the tongue”. You are a Christian sir and a Representative of the Untied States Congress, it is your responsibility to call out offensive behavior. You have to be all in.
In contrast, the one surviving stabbing victim in Portland stood up to hate and violence yet again. See? All in.
All I have to live on is this: I am a Christian who condemns violence, who condemns hatred, who believes in peaceable living for all, who sees that it is my responsibility to care for the widows, the orphans, and the refugee. Not just “in my heart” but loudly and publicly.
Even Christ made a mistake, seeing the Canaanite woman and her daughter and less human than he, with her different color skin and her “weaker” gender, they were compared to the likeness of dogs, by Christ. That’s how strong the influence of power can be, the world convincing us that I and mine are better than you.
Give it up, Christ says, give it all up, just as this woman did. Take her example and literally, publicly, put in your two sense and surrender the thing that makes you powerful in this world.
Will you? Can you? Devote your whole self to God and serve Christ and the world with all you have?
Progressive Christianity cannot be indifferent to our faith any longer. We are so afraid of offending others that we have forgotten who we are.
If you want to answer this call then here’s what needs to happen. You have to stand up to injustice wherever you see it. You have to get involved politically. You have to find ways to give your privilege and power away and make room for others, YES.
But wait, there’s more.
You have to know and study your Bible. You can’t be afraid of words like “Jesus”, “sin” and “judgement”. You need to be able to speak passionately about God, Christ, and faith and how your faith aligns with your politics.
Jesus never shied away from politics. Evangelicals don’t see them as two different things and neither should you.
You need to quote scripture like the rest of them, and in context. You need to know your opponent’s arguments and be able to come back with why Jesus would NEVER have responded that way, be specific with examples. Be smart.
And why do all this? Because this is NOT a Christian Nation, but Christian nationalist have taken it over, and it’s past time to take it back.
The Reverend Shannon Meacham currently serves Ashland Presbyterian Church in the safest part of Baltimore, the suburbs. You can find her musings about any and all subjects on her personal blog pulpitshenanigans.com.
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