There’s Something I Need to Say

Standard

There’s something I need to say.

For those of you who know me, you’ll know this isn’t something new. I’m not exactly a wallflower. I’m certainly not afraid to hold and voice strong opinions. And a good discussion is one of my most favourite things in the world (just ask my poor husband). And yet, there is something I haven’t said openly before. Something I’ve believed strongly for a very long time, but have only really discussed with those closest to me, in the safety of those relationships I know can hold the weight of such strong words. I’m working hard as of late to refine my listening skills, to learn greater restraint and increase my awareness and understanding, which often means less talking and more hearing.

I said I’m working at it – not that I’m succeeding.

But seriously, while I am happy to voice strong opinions when I have had time to form them carefully, I still hesitate on certain issues. I want to walk that line between voicing an opinion strongly held and preaching at others that they are wrong. And I want to be careful that my judgment of a position doesn’t cross the line into judgment of the person who holds it. It’s not easy.

So I find myself here, needing to say something with strong words, a position carefully formed, and yet not wanting to come off as self righteous or judgmental. So I include myself in the audience for these words.

You cannot be a Christian if you refuse to speak up for the marginalized.

It’s not that you can’t claim the title – there are plenty of very visible and vocal people walking around claiming the label as their own but living completely contradictory values. And it’s not that you can’t have a variety of different opinions about how help is best given, or even about what you may personally think is right or wrong. You can be hypocritical in any number of ways (we all are when we look closely enough), you can be wrong about any number of things, you can be as broken as broken can be.

But you cannot be a Christian if you refuse to speak up for the marginalized.

How dare I make such a statement. I mean, if one thing is central to the Christian faith it is that there is nothing humanity can do to EARN the grace that is necessary (and freely given) to restore our relationships. And that is 100% true. But that is not what I am talking about. I’m not saying “in order to be a Christian, you must do ‘A'”. What I’m saying is “If you are truly a believer and follower of Christ, you cannot help but do ‘A’ – ‘A’ is inevitable”. So if you aren’t doing ‘A’, then you are not truly following.

The very essence of Christ is Love. But by far the greatest expression of that Love is shown towards those who DO NOT DESERVE IT. I mean, no one deserves it, but if you are reading the stories of Jesus’ life, you are seeing that most of his time is spent engaging with and speaking out on behalf of the lowest of the low. It is absolutely essential to his way of life to identify with those who are wrong, and bad, and dirty, and hurt, and weak, and alone. If you cannot see that, you aren’t reading the same Bible.

Prosperity gospel is a popular thing these days, and I see it often in varying degrees. Spoiler: if someone is telling you that God will reward you for faith with STUFF, or HAPPINESS (as defined by us), they are lying to you. The biggest problem for me is the middle class Christians who like to walk around declaring that all you need to do is “give it to God” and “have faith” and everything will work out. Spoiler alert 2: if someone tells you that believing in God means you will no longer suffer (or that all your suffering will lead to some great human pay off) they are lying to you. The reality of millions of Christians worldwide is that while their faith is real, it is hard, and their lives are hard, and will continue to be hard. And sometimes it won’t get better. Not here. And if you are a Christian, it is IMPOSSIBLE for you to ignore this reality. Because God is most certainly not blind to this reality. His whole gospel is centered on this reality. And if you are centered on him, your reality will be centered on it too.

A gospel that ignores those among us who are cast out is not the gospel at all. It’s nothing more than some pretty words and nice ideas meant to make you feel safe and comfortable and happy in the human kingdom you have built for yourself. It’s the gospel of you, not the gospel of Christ. And you, my friend, are not meant to be at the center of your world. Everyone else is. If you find yourself ignoring the hard stuff for the sake of your comfort, you’re going the wrong way. If you are comfortable in your life and think the extent of Christ’s message is to help other people feel comfortable too, you’re missing the point. If you find yourself never talking, thinking or engaging with those groups the vocal minority of people identifying as Christians take the most joy in pissing on, you need to reacquaint yourself with your Christ. Christ was never silent – in word or action – when it came to those on the fringes.

Now some people (including myself) will read this and think “Yes! That’s right! We need to be showing up for those groups that are cast out by society – the poor and homeless, the LGBTQ community, the ethnic minorities” and you are right: we really really do. Our whole ethos should be one of showing these communities radical Love. But we so often forget that it wasn’t just the poor and outcast Jesus hung out with. Nope.

Guys, this is where it gets hard. Jesus also hung out with tax collectors. He spent a significant amount of time engaging with the pharisees. He made time for heads of state and leaders of armies. This pacifist, Loving, Jew didn’t just deal with the lowly, he dealt with the unpopular. Even the really rich, prestigious unpopular crowd. We are good at calling for attention to the “hurt, weak and alone” but we can be pretty bad at showing love to the “wrong, bad and dirty” crowd. I know I can.

But you cannot be a Christian if you refuse to Love the undeserving.

The thing is, in their own way, the wrong, bad and dirty crowd is just as bad off as the hurt, weak and alone. They are totally broken, in totally different ways.

Some people hold more power in our world, and we need to recognize that difference. Some people have smaller voices, and they need our voices more than others so that they can be heard. And we need to give our voices to them.

But no matter how powerful or weak our society may have made someone, the thing is, they all need the same Love. The great thing about Love is it is extremely versatile. It can show up as compassionate giving, and it can show up as humble correction. Sometimes Love is shouting for justice. Sometimes Love is pleading for reason. Sometimes Love is silent tears shed in solidarity.

All the time, Love is our calling.

You cannot be a Christian if you refuse to speak up for the marginalized.

You cannot be a Christian if you refuse to Love the undeserving.

You can be a Christian if you are willing to try.

 

 

Advertisements

One thought on “There’s Something I Need to Say

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s