I know I’m guilty of going on these “social justice” and “loving better” rants from time to time. I also know that one blog post is not going to seriously alter someone else’s perspective. So, just know that my intention is solely therapeutic. I’m not always great with face to face stuff. I have big feelings. I come from a long line of big feelers. It’s encoded in my DNA. And I need a way to sort through all of it. So I write. It’s what I have. It’s my thing.
The Presidential campaigning has begun along with all the social media snarkiness that comes along with it. I know this is only the beginning, so I’m trying hard to keep resentment from popping up in my heart towards people posting over and over again on social media about their opinions regarding political issues. I do find myself feeling sad about things I read from ALL sides on ALL issues. Mostly because it feels like “being right” trumps being kind or being loving.
What’s the point in being “right” if you have shared your side in a way that is so ugly and so hurtful that you push away the marginalized and broken people who Jesus cares so much about? Sure, you are right. But you are also so wrong. Do you think that your witty internet meme which effectively lumps an entire class of people into the stereotype of lazy and opportunistic (all for the sake of a political agenda) will bring anyone to repentance?
Will your rants about welfare fraud cause reform or convict someone who is abusing the system? Or is there more of a chance that what it will actually do is isolate and put shame in the heart of a brother or sister in Christ who has never abused the system but is in a season where they find themselves using food stamps? Aren’t we doing the one thing that hurts us the most as Christians? The world has taken a few public examples of Christianity and lumped us all into the category of hateful bigots. It hurts. And yet, so many of us turn around and categorize everyone around us and make generalizations that we have no right to make.
YES…there are people abusing the system. But what I have seen with my very own eyes over and over again in my work with Safe Families is that there is a larger group of socially isolated and financially desolate people who are trying to claw their way out of a cycle of poverty. A people who WANT to do better for themselves and don’t have the tools. And here we are with the tools in hand, but we’re too busy lumping them into the category of lazy to show them how to use those tools. We can talk about it, or we can act. Talk is cheap, friends. Besides, wasn’t it Jesus himself who said “If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.” Perhaps when they demand financial assistance, right or wrong, the more radical thing to do would be to give more.
Christians-I think we would see great change if we got busy loving and serving the ones we deem undeserving of grace and let God worry about bringing them to justice and repentance. I think our hearts change when we put specific faces and names and relationships to “user of government assistance” or “illegal immigrant.” I think this world is not our home and instead of putting so much stock in it we should try to shift our perspective and look at people as souls instead of flesh.
I need to confess that YES, my work with Safe Families has sort of turned me into a bleeding heart. I need to confess that I have recently found it easier to give grace to the struggling single mother who doesn’t know Jesus when she makes mistakes than it is for me to extend grace to a fellow Christ follower who lives an upper middle class life. I know that makes me stick out like a sore thumb. I know that there are many of you who honestly love me but could not disagree with me more and sometimes that gets awkward. I know that I find myself more easily angered by the Christian who shows hatefulness to the “least of these” than by the world’s hatefulness towards Christians. I need to work on that because the truth of the matter is that we are all broken, Christian and non Christian. We all need grace. None of us are deserving. And I need to confess this inner battle publicly like I am because you need to know that I don’t have all of this figured out. My flesh is sinful just like yours and I am not always slow to anger. I wish I were.
I feel this urgency. We need to act now. My fellow Christ followers, time is so short. I mean, one day my superhero father was a happily busy guy with a long to do list and plenty of strength to get it all done (with more strength to spare). And then I BLINKED and he had brain cancer and everything has changed. The fragility of this life is real. We aren’t promised tomorrow and I think the knowledge of that should make us long to find more and more ways to love others and to do it every chance we get. I pray that I will better love the people who I can’t relate to. The people who I don’t understand. I pray that I will remember that they were lovingly created by the very same hands that lovingly created me. And I pray that you would love better, too.
Until the next blog…be blessed!