Jesus and White Supremacy

Posted: August 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

It’s Sunday, and of the remaining practicing Christians, a rapidly diminishing company, many will be in their houses of worship this morning, praying, singing, preaching, communing. On the surface of these many different traditions within the Christian household, even with the differences, you see much of the same thing going on. On the surface.

When it comes to how these many stripes of Christians relate the faith to personal lives and our social situations there are large culverts that separate them. They may all love Jesus but the Jesus they love is portrayed in surprisingly different ways. And the derived moral sense from this portrayal of Jesus is also very different.

So if you happen to be a Christian this is a conversation for you. If you’re not maybe you can tune in to understand why it is that people who supposedly bear the same name – Christian – look and act so radically different.

Let’s go for the low-hanging fruit first. Many just use the faith label while not seriously considering the content of the faith. They have a worldview to which they are already disposed and find religious sounding mottos to endorse it. This has created some of the worst behavior throughout history. We see it today among the Christian identity movements like the KKK and Neo-Nazis. They have nothing to do with Chrisitanity. They delude themselves.

But those are the easy ones. No one outside of their recycling echo chamber of hate buys it. The hard ones are the least observable. You will know them by their fruit and how they address recent events in Virginia and elsewhere shows their true colors. You will discover it in worship. Will they ignore the hatred and bigotry? Will they somehow rationalize the behavior and make excuses? Will they denounce such speech and actions on the one hand but continue to practice it in a thousand other ways at the same time?  And the big one: Do they endorse and support political figures, legislation and policies that continue systematic discrimination?

My Christian friends of many kinds:

Jesus was not a white supremacist.  He was not even white. And he was not Christian. He was a Jewish peasant living in the midst of a brutal occupation. He found and proclaimed God in the midst of all that. He was killed for denouncing religious hypocrisy and governmental oppression. We love him for it. And we fear what following him will require of us.

What it requires of us today is clearly opposing all that which is not the way of love, everything that is unjust and fueled by hatred. What it requires is putting our lives – our security, reputations and comfort – on the line. This of course means that we have to draw a distinction between the way of Jesus and the cultural values that we breath in like the air around us. The distortion of our hearts and minds – what we Christians have called sin – keeps us from reflecting the divine life and speaking of it. Today and every day we will either take a stand for the radical way of Jesus or not.

Taking this stand means being very clear about what is and is not the way of Jesus. Our voice is important. And faithful teaching and preaching and shepherding will help people know what is and is not the path. This will take lots of courage. We will need to encourage and pray for one another. We can’t do it alone and yet each one must do it alone, make the moral decision alone.

Where do we stand? I hope our answer will be that we stand with the one who made our lives oh so much better but also more dangerous.

Can you imagine Jesus participating in anything like the hatred we witnessed in Virginia yesterday?  Or in hatred and violence of the centuries? Of course not.

Denounce it, good Christians. Don’t participate in it yourselves.  Dare to pronounce a reign and kingdom of God that includes an entirely different vision. If we will we will not end up a part of the popular masses of Christians who make Jesus into an icon but don’t follow him. Refuse to do that. If we will our reward will be found in a conscience and heart at rest. Remember that after the cross comes resurrection. And it may take a cross.

 

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