An Open Letter to Christians, Christian Leaders and Faith-based INGO colleagues
I kissed my elementary-aged babies last night and stayed bedside until well after they slept. As I did, I wept for families in Texas who couldn't do the same. Fourteen, then eighteen... I was scared to see numbers climb. Again.
I received texts of solidarity and sadness from colleagues in emerging economies. Again. Leaders in countries to which our organizations ship aid and send grants. They don't have these problems there, in those places we show up to "help." Surely they scratch their heads. I hope they really do pray for us.
Children. Killed by a youth. In a school.
Barely a week after senior persons of color. Killed by a youth. At the grocery store.
After and in the middle of so many headlines of other continued violence in America.
Time’s up, people. And it has been for a long while. We're running in deficit. We're way overdue.
Spoiler alert: More death, destruction and our cultural irrelevance as a sector lie ahead.
To not be part of a solution is to be part of the problem. A heartbreaking sin of omission.
As a faith community:
- We cannot in the name of strategy care about children in other countries, then not act when our own are slaughtered. In classrooms.
- We cannot invite others to care about Black lives in Africa, sending money tied to their pictures, then do nothing over Buffalo. Or _____.
- We cannot decry guns and brutality in far-off places, then hide them here in partisan politics. As "freedom."
- We cannot talk about building healthy churches globally, then sit back when the largest denomination reports systematic deception over sexual abuse. And take their money.
All to continue growth and power trajectories - which translated means comfort for self and others nearby. It means anything but taking up a cross and following.
Do you not see the contours of interconnectedness? Do you not see the systems? They're called powers and principalities actually.
Talk of biblical justice can no longer be selective or convenient. Loud if it feeds the budgets, silent if it threatens the bases.
Remember, God rejects what is hypocritical. Read Amos 5 in its entirety. Repent and lament. Then let justice roll on like a river. Help it flow.
Christianity in America is in a nosedive. That is in part due to the collective contribution to abuses and the inaction on injustices. Faith leaders of all types are complicit in a tangled web of systemic issues. Young adults are running for the door or out already. They run trying to trace the footprints of a real Jesus.
What part are you playing already? Teach it.
What part are you willing to play? Show it.
How will we use privilege and power to name Jesus in the US beyond marketing?
How will we leverage our networks and relationships to influence uncomfortable, quite possibly painful, yet absolutely essential change?
When will we stop pointing out specks of sawdust in eyes hemispheres away, and work to gouge out the massive planks deep within our own? So we stop exporting blindness.
The Call isn’t only to the uttermost. Disciple-making specifically starts in Jerusalem - a place of rejection, where you might not be welcome in your own home.
Only then can we work with integrity for justice and shalom in Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.
One among you who believes Jesus is far more than the cultural icon to which we've reduced him
Main image by Jilbert Ebrahimi.