My mom always told me, “Stand up for your rights. Speak up.”
It’s easy to speak up when we are in agreement. To say, “Me too! I also love dry martinis and bleu cheese and guys with beards.” Not so much when we are not seeing eye to eye – especially when it’s about the important stuff, the life and death stuff.
The Jesus stuff.
And the fact that some you thought would speak up, should speak up, don’t – it makes you want to shout even louder. And sometimes, that shout is, “Why?”
I am looking at you, Christians.
This world, this country – we have had a crazy year. There is war, oppression, hunger, homelessness. There are people fleeing their homes, trying to escape their war-torn countries, to save their lives and the lives of their children.
There is so much to speak up about right now. So much to say, “this isn’t right.”
To live a Christian life means to be of service, to help those in need, to be the hands and feet of Christ.
This is where I got confused when I was younger. And why I left the church for a while. I saw several people who claimed they were Christians, running around using Jesus’ name, judging and name-calling. And I saw several who didn’t proclaim a faith, living in a more loving and giving way than I had ever witnessed.
The latter were the ones I wanted to learn from, wanted to be more like, and I still feel that way. Whether you are Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, atheist – if you are working to make this world a more loving, giving place, speaking up to make it a more loving, giving place – then you are the boots on the ground.
For example, if you are more concerned with maintaining the “Under God” portion of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools than you are helping the poor, or if you are more concerned with keeping marriage out of reach for a loving gay couple than helping refugee children in need, then I am closer to an atheist who does the latter than a Christian who does the first.
I know I am going to fire some people up with that one, but if it helps to quote scripture, then here is Matthew 12:50 for you: As Jesus said: “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
Living how Jesus asked us to live. This includes speaking up.
I remember after the Trump tapes situation during the election season, I was so confused about the amount of Christian leaders who excused this kind of talk, saying that it called for grace and forgiveness and to move on. But when it came to his opponent, there was none to be found. So how is the decision made? That the ones that Christians want to win to further their cause are given grace but the ones who don’t deserve to be “locked up”? This is incongruous and a convenient way to live, but not a good representation of the one we follow.
Let me be clear, I know several churches, several individuals who have spoken up. Who have said, “This isn’t right.” People and groups who have shown in their actions that they want to help. But if there ever was a time in our world to speak up collectively, it is now.
When refugees try to make a home here in our country and so many saying, “No, they are not welcome,” And not only are they not speaking up, some Christians, namely our Governor now Vice President- Elect, attempting to put a law into place making it illegal for refugees to find shelter here. Where is Jesus in that? It is time to say, “This isn’t right. We need to do better.”
When we have an election where there is misogyny and xenophobia, it is time to stand up and say, “This isn’t right.”
When we have a group of people being judged based on their faith and it is suggested there could be a registration for that population, it is time to say, “This isn’t right.”
When we have our climate changing, our Earth’s natural resources being pillaged for financial gain – it’s time to say, “This isn’t right.”
Human trafficking, oppression, innocent people being shot – it is time to shout from the rooftops, “This isn’t right! It is time to live differently.”
I know there is fear. Fear among politicians that if they speak up, they won’t get re-elected. Fear that they will lose funding to run another campaign.
I know there is fear in the church to speak up about politics and the state of world. The need to not alienate anybody, I fear, has done the opposite and left everyone alienated. How can our leaders rationalize it’s okay that our President-Elect mocked a disabled person? They can’t, for fear of alienating those who voted for him, for fear the collection plate won’t be as full the next Sunday. So they just don’t bring it up.
But which is more important? Having courage, speaking the truth, being clear about what being a Christian is about – about love, about service, about bringing everyone, even those you would disagree with, into your life? Or giving in to the fear that we will anger some and lose their support?
I know I am going to upset people with this. Some will say I don’t know scripture enough, I don’t have the education to speak about this. And they’ll be right.
But I do know Jesus. Even when I left him, when I couldn’t get on board with his followers, he fought for me. And here I am.
Jesus got in the mix of life, he got dirty. He brazenly spoke out against inequality, helped the oppressed, condemned the oppressor, and embraced those who were alienated. And by doing so, he was alienated – cast out for speaking up for those stepped on and calling out injustice wherever he saw it.
So here I am. I am calling it out. If we who follow Christ know of those suffering, of those being oppressed, of inequality, and do nothing about it, then we are not following Christ at all.
So let’s jump in. Together let’s speak up. Let’s not be bystanders. Let’s stand up for those oppressed, let’s call out our leaders when they are being unjust. Let’s jump in, make our voices known and make our actions louder. It is the most Christian thing we can do.