What I am about to write has been brewing up in me for a while, maybe years. These words have been percolating, dark and bitter, needing to be ground, filtered, sweetened. Today, I hope I am able to pour you a fresh cup of hope and conviction.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a political person, I do not like heated political discussions and words like “legislation” make me a bit queasy. I would really, really like to be one of those people who can just continue to shrug and say, “I hate politics” but the truth is I live in a country that is a democracy and that is a gift and a right and a responsibility. I need to exercise this right, even if it feels like a slow and painful stretch, tight muscles fighting against one another.
Speaking of fighting, I struggle between the two political parties, partly because I just don’t like “versus” type situations, I always feel bad for the losing team even if it is not the one I favor. I don’t like how it can divide families, friends, neighbors. I don’t like that real live people can be absolutely destroyed on national TV, their character flaws and worst parts of them exploited, twisted and on display for all of us to see. I think of how it would feel to be a family member, and see your dad torn apart in that way. I just don’t like it.
I also don’t like bearing any labels outside of Christ-follower. I only want to be known as that, and don’t want to wear any other stickers that contradict the statement that I am wholeheartedly devoted to becoming the most like Jesus that I possibly can.
And here’s the thing, I’m not so sure either party reflects the heart that Jesus had, which makes me really sad. He came loving the sinner and hating the Pharisee (the religious leaders who depended on performance for their salvation). There are days that I find myself doing the opposite, forgetting that I am still that sinner, and no sin is worse than another and that I desperately need salvation and grace and forgiveness and belonging just as much as the next person.
Those of us who were blessed enough to grow up with parents who loved us, food always on the table, clothes always in our closet, friends always by our side, we should be the ones that are extending this very love to those who didn’t get those things growing up—those whose homes were devastated by divorce or abuse or death or deep and dark things nobody even knows about. We did not earn our upbringing; we did nothing to deserve it any more than we earned Jesus’ unlimited grace and forgiveness of our sins. We can accept it and cherish it, but we need to SHARE it, not hoard it. There’s enough of it to go around, people. It is not ours to keep.
Here’s the thing: the reason America needs “social programs” is because the church isn’t doing its job. That’s us, by the way, not a building or an organization or a denomination: the church is you, and me, and us. The church is called to be Jesus’ hands and feet, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)
The reason there are teen pregnancies and STDs and abortions and drug abuse and bullying and suicide and rape and alcoholism is that people and broken and hurting and looking for hope, looking for something to fill a deep hole within them, and they look to things that immediately gratify their skin, their stomachs, their self, and yet they hurt their very soul.
No, I don’t think government should dictate our every choice, but perhaps they are compensating for a lack of the church, of Christians, choosing to love and embrace and share our lives with those who need the love and security we have found. Wouldn’t it be great if we would get to know the actual people that reflect the homelessness statistics? That those black and white numbers, those stereotypes evolved into actual human beings with skin and eyes and stories? That we would help them find hope in their lives, to give up addictions, to find work and community and security? We all know that big government is nobody’s friend, it is not personable and it is not the solution, it can’t pray for you or hold your hand or be there for you in the middle of the night when you need it the most, when your past is taunting you in a bad way.
Do you know what else isn’t the solution? Eating fried chicken to show people that marriage is sacred. How about, instead, we live our marriages out loud and in love? How about we share our struggles, seek wise counsel, and fight through the hard times? Wouldn’t it be nice if the church’s divorce-rate was non-existent, wouldn’t it be nice if we shared how monogamy can be wonderful and the hottest relationship there is?
How about we teach our daughters that they are lovely and wonderful and beautiful and that their body is sacred and they possess an incredible gift that is meant for one man to share forever, who will never hurt them or leave them? How about we teach them their value is not defined by their looks, but rather by their heart, their actions? How about we celebrate virtue and softness in women?
How about we fight for the unborn but we also support those young mothers who are facing traumatizing situations, who feel alone, and need us so desperately to love on them and show them that we care for them too, not just their unborn baby. How about we foster and adopt children, welcoming those who haven’t experienced a loving father-and-mother home? How about we show people that they will see more adoption in the church than in People magazine?
How about we distribute our resources, generously give, knowing that God created the world with enough resources for everyone to be well-fed, clothed and sheltered—that He does not cause the starving and suffering in the world, but rather He trusted us, His children, to show His love to others by reaching out to those needing it.
These words may seem utopian or impossible, but I think you should know that these words prick my soul as I write them, stinging, reminding me that I fall short, every day. But this, right here, is my heart, and I pray that I am honestly reflecting a small, small peice of the gigantic heart of a Father who crazy loves His children. I hope that my pride, my foolishness, my fall-short-ed-enss has been filtered out with the murky grounds and all that is left is a cup of hope. So, drink up my friend, and then go, and do something.
Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?
He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’