The past few months continue to weigh on my heart. My country is so divided. People that I love and care about seem to be deteriorating into angry and judgmental behavior. My understanding of God wanting us to be people of peace, reconciliation, that spread unconditional love and healing…. seems to be distorted and used to justify horrible irresponsible behavior. Hearing stories of small elementary school children doing drills to prepare for a school shooting is sad. Seeing our leaders make sure that no guns enter Congress, or a football game, yet seemingly OK with guns in every teacher’s hands is horrifying. And now, pictures and videos of little children being torn from their parent’s arms and being placed on the floor in cold tents in locked fenced-in areas breaks my heart.
It is offensive to me to see the use of Christian faith as an excuse for this behavior.
A group of Christian Leaders have begun a movement entitled Reclaiming Jesus. These leaders believe that the Christian Church’s role is to change the world through the life and love of Jesus Christ. If Jesus is Lord, then Caesar is not. We are not the servant of the state, but rather its conscience. These leaders have given me hope.
I want to share with you just a few sentences from the document that explains this movement:
© We believe each human being is made in God’s image… Therefore we reject white nationalism and racism.
© We believe we are one body. In Christ, there is to be no oppression based on race, gender, identity, or class… Therefore we reject misogyny, violent abuse, sexual harassment, and assault of women.
© We believe that how we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner is how we treat Christ himself… Therefore we reject the language and policies of political leaders who would debase and abandon the most vulnerable children of God.
© We believe that truth is morally central to our personal and public lives… Therefore we reject the practice and pattern of lying that is invading our political and civil life.
© We believe that Christ’s way of leadership is servanthood, not domination… Therefore we reject any moves toward authoritarian rule.
© We believe Jesus when he tells us to go into all the nations making disciples. Our churches and our nations are part of an international community whose interests always surpass national boundaries… Therefore we reject “America First” as a theological heresy for followers of Christ.
If our Gospel is not “good news to the poor”, then it is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Luke 4:18)
More of this statement – A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis – can be found at the website ReclaimingJesus.org
Hosea 6: 6 “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
Missing someone is a common human experience.
I’m reminded of that age-old skit of a married couple sitting across from each other at breakfast. The husband sits hidden behind a newspaper or, nowadays, is looking at his phone and messages. And the wife is saying something absolutely outrageous just to see if he is listening.
And of course, he just keeps responding, yes, dear…
We can be lonely in a family. We can be lonely in a crowd.
The prophet Hosea saw that God was missing the people. Hosea was speaking to the people of God, Israel, in the last few months before their downfall, when they were overrun by Babylon and taken into captivity. We call this time the Exile.
Israel had come into the land, and gotten organized, gotten kings, and they had become prosperous and mighty. This changed their relationship with God. They had appointed priests to pray for them…. And the people themselves had grown more and more distant from God. In their luxurious and busy lives, they seemed to have gotten distracted, preoccupied, and they lost their desire to know God personally.
According to Hosea, there was religion and there was ritual. But Hosea says that there was no longer any knowledge of God. And God was lonely. God was missing the people.
Elizabeth O’Connor wrote that it does not seem as though the failure of Christianity in our time is that we have different interpretations. These have existed since the beginning of the church.
It lies, rather, in a pervading attitude in the Church itself that the inwardness of its life can be known without any serious commitment. It is one of those generally held illusions that we only commit ourselves to something based on having learned all there is to know. But she points out that a marriage is entered into, a commitment made, without possibly knowing all there is to know about the other person. And the commitment must be made, in order to discover intimacy of a relationship with another person. She points out that the commitment comes first, before all the secrets can be known.
Commitment is about a desire to know, not because we already know.
It is possible to know all the facts but not know the mystery.
God wants to be known and misses us when we choose to stay busy and distant.