Currently Reading: Searching for God Knows What, by Donald Miller
Too long, folks! Too long away from my blog. I need to not take long hiatuses like this. Blogging is too therapeutic for me not to do it. Aside from that, tho, it helps me to come out of this little box that encapsulates my little self-absorbed world. I love my world, dont get me wrong! The things God does in my life are so incredible, sometimes I wonder if he’s got the right woman! ^_^;; I’m not any better than
- that little girl in Indonesia who’s been repeatedly raped by her uncle,
- the child widow in India fated to live in an ashram for the rest of her life without any hope of re-marriage and children of her own,
- the woman in Thailand who was sold into prostitution by her own husband who, now that she’s been ‘desecrated,’ doesnt acknowledge her as his wife,
- or that kid in the university who was pummeled by some guys in the bathroom and had to drink pissed-in toilet water b/c he’s black, or Jewish, or Muslim, or gay.
I love that blogging and reading the blogs of others has the capacity to break me out of my self-absorbed thinking and remind me that the world is bigger and more complicated than just my own journey. In fact, my journey is only a tiny story in the midst of so many larger and more fascinating stories in history. I’m not saying my story isnt significant in its own way. God makes sure that everyone’s story has value and purpose. I’m just saying that I shouldnt take myself too seriously in light of things going on around me. And esp not in the light of all the injustice in the world. I am way too blessed to dare believe that any ‘suffering’ I go thru is comparable to what people – esp. women and children – around the world suffer.
Albus Dumbledore was a great man when he was with us in the Harry Potter world. He said something very profound which they captured quite nicely in the 4th film. His very wise words to Harry at the end of GoF were simply this:
“Dark and difficult times lie ahead.
Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”
Doing wrong is brainless – no thought necessary. Say something racist, rude or careless. Participate in derogatory jokes. Surround yourself with ppl that are just like you. (That’s called “inbreeding,” folks.) Quit when times get tough; throw in the towel when the stakes get too high. Injustice is easy. But, doing right is hard, painful and sacrificial. Try watching your mouth and your thoughts sometime. Stand up for the poor, marginalized, disenfranchised, suffering and oppressed. Defend the orphan, gang member, widow, divorcee, slave, prostitute, transexual, homeless, drug addict… People lose their jobs, their homes, their rights, their dignity, their reputation, and sometimes their very lives for doing things like this. Things that the world can never understand. Things that make them too good for this world. The world isnt worthy of ppl like Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr, Jesus… They fought for justice and most were assassinated. Justice is hard.
Leading and championing the cause of justice should be the primary work of the Church. “Should” is the operative word. But, what kind of justice are we talking about here? You see, I think that, for the most part, the average church, (apologies for the generalization), does not teach its congregation the complete Gospel. If I can summarize it, this is what I learned the Gospel was: The Gospel is Jesus dying on the cross. Period. And this is what justice is: Justice is ppl getting what they deserve – and usually it’s something bad, so that means justice is really about punishment. The criminal is executed so justice is served! That kinda stuff. Maybe not completely wrong, but definitely incomplete.
I dont know where the turning point came for me. How do I understand ‘justice’ now? Justice is the earthly fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. Ask most Christians what the Kingdom of God is and I’ll bet $1M they’ll say it’s Heaven. They’re only half right. I’m talking about EARTHLY fulfillment, not heavenly pie in the sky by and by. What does the Kingdom of God look like when it’s fulfilled? Maybe it looks like
- a Chinese washing the feet of an African,
- a Brahmin serving food to a Dalit,
- a pimp freeing his prostitutes and then helping to free others,
- a German Christian sending support to help Russian Jews go to Israel
- a Turk and a Greek embracing in tears
- a Kurd being honored by an Iraqi
- a Janjaweed soldier refusing to burn a village in Darfur
- a former Nazi welcomed in Harlem
- orphans adopted & widows supported
- women serving alongside men in positions of leadership
- gay, goth and grunge all welcomed in the church
- egalitarians and complementarians fellowshipping at the Lord’s table
Maybe that’s what complete justice in light of the complete Gospel is. And maybe that’s why we dont see it. It’s too hard. Injustice is easy. So we keep preaching the same message about standing up to pray a ‘sinner’s prayer’ and then shove a Bible in people’s faces. Has anyone ever wondered why those same people who cried “Hosanna” to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem later cried “Crucify Him!”? Maybe they prayed a sinner’s prayer, too and thought it was enough. Or maybe they began to see what the real Gospel meant and what God’s Kingdom could really look like. And maybe they were scared or freaked or disgusted, or all of the above. They couldnt handle it, and neither can we.
But, guess what? The Gospel IS about justice. Deal with it.