Perhaps the next time someone asks us to put on a mask and our natural instinct is to get on our self-righteous soapbox about how we live by faith and not fear, we should reconsider two things: first, do our lives really reflect living without fear (and do we really want them to?), and second, is that actually how Jesus would respond?
Moving forward, I will strive more fervently to “err on the side of love,” as the saying goes. This does not mean I will stop pointing out what I see as uncomfortable truths. I believe more than ever we need that in our current time. But I will seek to be more engaging and less compelling. I will do all I can to not speak out of bitterness and frustration, but instead pursue grace and an invitation to discussion.
White American “Christianity” does not follow Jesus. It claims to worship Jesus, but “worship” while refusing to acknowledge his commands and follow through on them is a tainted worship. It’s false. It’s worse than meaningless. It’s more like mockery. It is taking the Lord’s name in vain.
When we look at protests, do we see the pain of centuries of injustice, or do we see graffiti? When we hear about yet another unarmed Black person killed by police officers, do we see the shedding of innocent blood, or do we seek to find an excuse (such as a misdemeanor on their record that means they were a “criminal,” and, by extension, deserved to die) to justify it? When we see healing on the Sabbath, do we see 18 years of disability come to a loving end, or do we see a violation of religious ritual?
The whole world is watching to see our response. It’s only reached this point because Trump’s base of American “Christians” has remained silent (or even openly supported) his long list of prior words and actions that violate everything Jesus lived (and died) for.
Today’s closer look at Luke examines another section of lengthy discourse. So many of the things Jesus says tie back to many of the topics we’ve already touched on in previous posts, with the core of the message being a radical faith that is lived out through selfless sacrifice to provide for everyone else. Basically, every step of the way, Jesus’ call contradicts what we naturally choose to pursue and the values of a materialistic world.
All of these things are rooted in selfishness, arrogance, and greed. And that ties us right back to the key components of the simple prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray at the beginning of the chapter.
Both pieces – one the story of how Jesus chose to send his followers out to minister and the other a parable to convey the truth that everyone is our neighbor – underscore just how serious the treatment of the most vulnerable is to Jesus. It is the hope of better treatment for them that is at the heart of his good news. Without it, there is no kingdom of God.
The entire heart of Jesus’ message, as exemplified in the famous words about gaining the world and losing your very self, is that others are the priority. Always. That simply does not align – and in fact completely contradicts – the mission and message of American “Christianity” and its culture.
I’m thankful for opportunities to learn something new, even when the realization seems so obvious that I feel quite stupid. Far more important than my personal feelings is the chance to make a minor temporary change to how I go about my life so I can do my own little part to protect others. Because I believe that all life – any single life – is worth the minor discomfort of me wearing a mask to protect others when I’m in public.