Friend, I understand. I know what it’s like to see that news story, turn your head away from that television, cover your ears when someone starts to talk about that tragedy. I understand. I have been there.
I understand worrying about sleeping at night, about how hearing about horrors might be fodder for your active imagination, about how you have to fight to keep your perspective. I understand not wanting to engage with brokenness. I am embarrassed, but I understand.
I understand the cold sweat when you decide you’re going to do it anyway, I understand the shaky breath and the terror that grips your heart when you realize that it will mean work and rethinking and resorting what you believe about God and life and politics. How it will mean more chipping away at the parts of us that don’t look like Jesus. I understand the way that wave of panic will sweep over you as you read, the way you will become overwhelmed. I understand that it’s embarrassing and hard to admit that sometimes you shy away from things you know will cause growth because growing just seems too hard.
I also understand that most of the time you aren’t shying away from it because your heart is callused, but because you are desperately trying to learn how to think critically without having a critical spirit. I understand how bad theology, fear mongering, and random legalism can make true Christian activism seem about as overwhelming as the crisis. I understand. Sister, I hear you. Brother, I see you. I understand. I see that every time you choose to read one of those stories it’s a sacrifice. But I’m also learning to understand something else. Jesus is showing me that choosing not to read these stories– closing our eyes and shutting our ears and pretending like it doesn’t exist– is a luxury we gave up the day we joined Him on that cross. A luxury he eschewed the day he refused to turn his face away from our sin, took it on, and gave his life for us.
I understand the desire for a wise spirit. A discerning spirit. I know that longing for a spirit that loves truth. I understand the feeling that in order to keep from developing a critical spirit, it’s probably better if we just stay out of it. But I also understand that those feelings are a lie.
And I just want you to know, that somewhere in the midst of seeing broken children being picked over like they’re scraps from yesterday’s garbage, in the midst of seeing thousands of children displaced from their homes, while I hear about women who are making homes in shipping containers, Jesus keeps finding me. And he gently reminds me that even though these are big things, there are small obediences. And that his kingdom is coming to a broken world.
I get it. I understand. Sometimes these words are the only ones big enough to hold the ache.
Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Sometimes, I sit there with a heavy heart searching a little red book I started reading in college. Sometimes activism looks a lot like Gethsemane.
For the just and proper use of your creation, Lord have Mercy
For the poor, the persecuted, the sick and all who suffer, for refugees, prisoners, and all who are in danger; that they may be protected we pray to you O Lord.
Look down, O Lord, from your heavenly throne, and illumine this night with your celestial brightness; that by night as by day your people may glorify your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Sometimes activism is swiping at tears, while ransacking our house for baby supplies and driving to the local crisis pregnancy center. Sometimes it’s opening your home and your heart to children who have no place to go. Sometimes it is signing a petition that says THERE IS ROOM HERE. Sometimes it’s giving money and sometimes it’s giving your winter coat and sometimes it’s buying a Burger King gift card for that couple who is just trying to feed their children. Sometimes it is making signs and posting selfies, and sometimes it is just choosing to open our eyes and refusing the luxury that Jesus refused first.
Sometimes Christian Activism is big and sometimes it is very small. Every time, it’s Holy Spirit whispers in listening ears.
Dear friend, Jesus showed us a better way than worrying and hoarding and fearing. He showed us a better way than denying hearts and closed eyes and clenched hands. Jesus showed us that the way to an abundant life was to give our lives away.
I understand. I know that there is still so much I do not know, so much I will never understand. I recognize that I could never do enough research to be an expert on any of the social, political, or economical intricacies of the crises facing our broken world. But I do know one thing:
Jesus loves people. He loves women. He loves children. He loves men. He is on the side of the broken, the oppressed, the ones bought and sold. He brings peace where there is violence and justice where there is oppression. He is on the side of life and life abundant. In some tiny way, as we stand with our garbage bags full of belongings, as we weep for the dead and the dying, as we beg our president to make room, as we look for ways to open our homes and our lives to the broken, I think we are learning to stand with him.