Life with Jesus / race / Social Justice / The Church

Peace, Peace

“‘When people fall down, do they not get up?
    When someone turns away, do they not return?
Why then have these people turned away?
    Why does Jerusalem always turn away?
They cling to deceit;
    they refuse to return.
I have listened attentively,
    but they do not say what is right.
None of them repent of their wickedness,
    saying, “What have I done?”
Each pursues their own course
    like a horse charging into battle.
Even the stork in the sky
    knows her appointed seasons,
and the dove, the swift and the thrush
    observe the time of their migration.
But my people do not know
    the requirements of the Lord.

“‘How can you say, “We are wise,
    for we have the law of the Lord,”
when actually the lying pen of the scribes
    has handled it falsely?
The wise will be put to shame;
    they will be dismayed and trapped.
Since they have rejected the word of the Lord,
    what kind of wisdom do they have?
Therefore I will give their wives to other men
    and their fields to new owners.
From the least to the greatest,
    all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
    all practice deceit.
They dress the wound of my people
    as though it were not serious.
“Peace, peace,” they say,
    when there is no peace.
Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
    No, they have no shame at all;
    they do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall among the fallen;
    they will be brought down when they are punished,
says the Lord.

Jeremiah 8:4-12

***

I’ve been absent. I don’t know what reason to give you other than many other people have said things better than I ever could (I’ll link to them in the bottom). I am trying to uplift the voices of people of color around me, the marginalized, the affected, because their voices are the ones that really matter. Their voices are the ones we need to hear most clearly.

I’ve been doing alot of thinking about why the election of Donald Trump felt like such a crushing blow to me. I didn’t bleed Hillary or think that she came to save us. My despair wasn’t a whiny crybaby who lost at her game of jacks and is stomping home to cry into her pillow. That’s not it.

I found myself deeply disturbed at the American church, particularly the white evangelical vein, and how easily we seemed to look past the things that Trump said about the Black community and the Mexican community and disabled people and women and Muslims and I could go on and on.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been disturbed by the American church for a while. It didn’t start with Trump’s election.

Disturbed by our dogged loyalty to a few key issues (abortion, gay marriage, and guns) to the exclusion of other issues that deeply affect our marginalized brothers and sisters.

Disturbed by our wholesale support of the Republican party and our throwing the baby out with the bath water because things like criminal justice reform and environmental protection are what the “dirty liberals” care about.

Disturbed by the absolute lack of compassion for people who have different lived experiences than us.

Disturbed by  our tenacious love of the status quo and our lust for power and control over people who are different than us. Those people are bad. We are good. Everything is fine. Peace, peace.

(There is no peace.)

Months ago, a friend made the distinction between peacekeepers and peacemakers. I thought that was profound. The implications are deep. Peacekeepers enforce and strong arm and bully. They uphold the status quo, sometimes with violence, sometimes with silence against that violence. Peacekeepers don’t rock the boat. Peacekeepers aren’t moved by the pain of others. They don’t move period. Keep the peace. Everything is fine here. Move along, fall in line.

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“Scripture does not endorse unity for unity’s sake.”

Peacemakers lean in. They listen; they’re moved. Compassion and grace and mercy guide them. Peacemakers aren’t afraid of discomfort, in themselves or others. Peacemakers practice empathy by putting themselves in others shoes. Peacemakers love God and people more than themselves or the status quo. Peacemakers MAKE PEACE when there is none. They don’t pretend that everything is fine. They find a way, even if it rocks the boat or doesn’t feel like “unity”.

Peace doesn’t mean “no one ever feels discomfort”. It doesn’t mean “some people get to be happy and the others need to shut up about it”. It doesn’t mean “everyone gets a free pass and can say or do whatever they want”.

No, peace comes with a price. Peacemaking requires humility. Humility costs us.

My biggest fear, the thing that grieves my heart the most right now, is that the white American church won’t ever “get it”.

I’m afraid that we’ll continue to claim persecution when Starbucks decides against putting the words “Merry Christmas” on their holiday cups or the Ten Commandments are removed from in front of a state legislature that is supposed to represent Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, and so on.

I’m afraid that we’ll keep trying to legislate morality instead of getting dirty and loving people. Legislation is clean, neat, precise. Loving people is messy and complicated and part of the greatest commandment, according to Jesus.

I’m afraid that we’ll continue to bellow, “BLUE LIVES MATTER!” when Black and brown people ask that we acknowledge their humanity too.

I’m afraid that, even if we aren’t the ones being belligerent and hateful, that we’ll continue to be silent on issues of injustice because we’re afraid of rocking the boat or upsetting people. I’m afraid of this one the most. “Unity for unity’s sake.”

We have a big job ahead of us. Being peacemakers requires courage. I want you to prayerfully read through this blog that Austin Channing Brown wrote the day after the election.  It was written in response to the hordes of people trying to silence the grief that many felt after the election by saying, “Don’t worry. God is in control”. (Do you hear the peacekeeping in that sentiment?)

If you want to offer something helpful, consider sharing with those who are hurting that you are willing to take larger risks because God is all powerful. Tell some people that are hurting, that you will confront the racism in your family because you serve a God who is all powerful. Tell people that are hurting that you will stand up for them when its frightening and unpopular because you serve a God who is all powerful. Tell people that are hurting that you will not stand for your church to dehumanize anybody, any body because you serve an all powerful God. Tell us about how this all powerful God is moving you to greater action, greater advocacy, greater passion. If all you have for me and people I love is: “dont worry; God is still on the throne” you are telling me more about you than about God.

Lord, give us the strength and courage to be peacemakers. Let us see injustice and confront it. Let us hear the pain and embrace it. Let us be moved by love for one another, not fear or selfishness. Let us not say, “Peace, peace” until there is true peace.

 

 

Excellent Post-Election Reads:

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