I have tried to make this blog a politics-free zone. Despite so many headlines over the past 8+ months that I've been blogging here, I have focused on the fact that this blog is about faith, science, and feminism, and related issues. And that none of the social-justice-related headlines that have stirred me up fit this criteria.
But here's the thing:
I hope this blog will challenge you. I hope that you will find it compelling. And funny. And sad. I hope that it makes you think. I hope that it makes you angry sometimes, the kind of angry that makes you want to change things. I hope it makes you more willing to discuss, less willing to debate; more able to love, less able to judge.
I believe in opening doors and opening dialogue.
And I have talked about communication, because it's a gift I believe God has given me and I believe it's been an overarching purpose of my life. And part of this blog is to encourage communication and dialogue- real understanding- between groups that often don't have that.
And, feminism, as a movement, has always incorporated other aspects of social justice into its purposes.
So here goes. Do remember my House Rules for comments and my own responses.
Current events show that the social justice issues are numerous.
To name a (very) few:
1) Racism and the Black Lives Matter movement
2) LGBT issues, including the Supreme Court marriage ruling and how the Church should respond to LGBT individuals.
3) Most recently, the spotlight on the mind-boggling refugee crisis going on right now.
I am tired. I am tired of the debates. I am tired of the debates in the Church. I am tired of us all letting someone distract us from the work that there is to be done. I am tired of the false divides. I am tired of the "You can't be a Christian if..." games.
You can't be a Christian if...
...you don't vote Republican.
...you don't look like me.
...you don't worship like me.
...you identify as a feminist.
...you think it's ok that Target got rid of some gender-related signs (which, btw, is mostly in the toys and home sections-- where, can we all agree, it's not necessary?)
And the list goes on and on, from heavy theological debates to the ridiculous.
But there is one thing I know. And it's John 3:16, the heart of the gospel. It says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Whoever. No if's, and's, or but's. That means you.
And that person next to you who votes differently or thinks differently-- they're not necessarily wrong. And even if they are, that's ok too, because "He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins." We don't have to be perfect. God is still working on all of us. And making someone feel rejected or unloved is not going to hurry them along to what you consider "right living." Only the Holy Spirit can do that, and only God has the right to convict a heart. And if you feel He's called you to facilitate that conviction: my advice to you is to be cautious. We are called to correct in love-- and love must exist in relationship.
We have real problems in the world. Cue the short list above with racism, refugees, disease, death, etc. And I'm tired of defending my positions, not to unbelievers, but to fellow Christians who are in fear for my soul. Meanwhile, Jesus tells us to check our own hearts first.
And regarding that work we have to do- to help aid and fix those real-world problems- Jesus tells us that "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." I wonder if the harvest would be better harvested if we were more about serving the least of these. And I wonder if the workers are few because too many of us are standing in the field debating about the best way to harvest the grain instead of pitching in with the work.
Jen Pollock Michel's book Teach Us To Want really taught me how to think of the Kingdom of God in a new way. When I used to read Scripture passages about the Kingdom of God, I thought it meant Heaven. It was a someday, far-away reference. But this book challenged me with the statement, "The reign and rule of Jesus Christ is the kingdom."
Further, as we pray the words of the Lord's Prayer, "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven," and combine them with that statement, it creates an urgency. A right-here-right-now. She points out:
The Gospel writers record their eyewitness accounts of what the kingdom coming to earth really looks like... God has both spiritual and earthly occupations. Heaven mattered to Jesus, for sure, and proclaiming eternal salvation from sin was essential to Jesus' message of the kingdom...
But the stuff of earth mattered to Jesus too. In addition to his concern for the souls of men and women, Jesus also paid a good deal of attention to their bodies: hands that wouldn't straighten, legs that couldn't walk. The kingdom advanced as Jesus healed physical infirmities and proclaimed forgiveness from sin, took interest in the poor and poor in spirit.
Even when they don't look like us, or believe like us, or vote like us, or they have sin in their life. They may be another race, or religion. You may not understand them. You don't have to understand, you don't have to think they're right; you have to serve. We are called to be Christ's hands and feet. And when we look at the Gospels, those hands often embraced "sinners" and those feet often walked right where the "religious" thought they shouldn't.
We are called to be Kingdom-builders, and serve the unloved, the poor, the marginalized.
Even when the other builders don't look like you or believe like you, or vote like you, or you think they have sin in their life.
As Sarah Bessey says in Jesus Feminist, "Let's sit here in hard truth and easy beauty, in the tensions of the Now and the Not Yet of the Kingdom of God, and let us discover how we can disagree beautifully."
Let's stop arguing and let's get to work.
The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.