We’re clearly in the midst of some difficult times here in America. Our government is shut down, and no matter where you turn, one side is blaming the other.
Then, you hear many of us who are affected by this process lashing out at the men and women who can’t seem to get their jobs done (and let’s face it, who would abide this kind of incompetence in the workplace anywhere else?).
This is obviously very troubling to me. But what’s troubling me even more is something else I’ve been seeing which seems to be a response to this governmental ineptitude by some people of faith.
I’ve seen several Facebook statuses lately that say some kind of version of the following:
This world is not my home. I’m just passing through.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand this sentiment, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with it; it’s not even that bad a hymn, though not a favorite of mine. What troubles me about using this phrase is that it’s fraught with the potential for us to use it as an excuse to not get involved politically, to turn the other way when we are confronted with enormous injustice and inequality. When we are afraid to ruffle feathers and decide to simply throw up our hands instead.
Things get rough politically. We find, sometimes, that our opinions differ greatly from some of our closest and dearest friends and it doesn’t feel good. We want to avoid confrontation. So, we end up essentially saying, Hey, everything is out of control right now. I have this desperate need for certainty and I can’t find any right now!
Out of our need for this certainty and security, we say to ourselves, and others who will listen, (hopefully agreeing with us and validating our position, helping us feel that much more secure) God is in control!
It’s a statement of faith, and I understand where it comes from. Keep saying it; I’m with you!
My problem is not with a statement of faith. My problem is that I’ve seen it used as a cop out.
There is evil in this world. People do terrible things to one another and act in ways opposite of the ways of love. That happens, yes.
But, there are also people who act in loving ways all over the place. Nice words are said, helping hands are being lent, generous deeds are being done, and people are being clothed and fed. That’s also happening.
All of us have likely seen those WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) bracelets the kids used to wear. When I first saw them, several years ago, I wasn’t sure how I felt about them. At first I thought, That’s ridiculous! It’s just another way to try to keep young people “in line”! How presumptuous to assume we would know what Jesus would do in this case!
After some reflection, though, I thought to myself, You know, that’s not a bad question to ask. What would Jesus do? What would someone filled with the spirit of love, the spirit of God, do in this time of turmoil?
If you believe in a place we go after we die, that’s completely fine with me. I have no problem with you. I know that, for many people, the idea that another place beyond this one can offer an enormous amount of comfort. When my grandmother was in the very difficult last year of her life, she expressed to me quite often her longing for God to “take her home.”
When a loved one is suffering with cancer or Lou Gehrig’s or any other terrible thing that is out of our control, we want desperately to know that something beyond ourselves has it all figured out, that someone has a plan in place.
I’m not here to argue against that. That notion can bring a great deal of comfort, and comfort during times of suffering is something I pray for on a daily basis. What worries me is that, during times of crisis politically and socially, the notion that “God is in control” is played out by saying to ourselves and the world, I’m just going to throw up my hands because I just don’t know what to do. God will handle it all in the end.
I just don’t think that’s a very good answer to the bracelet question.
Our government is letting us down right now. No matter on which side of the political fence you’ve planted your lawn chair, I’m pretty sure we can agree on that. And, while we may not agree on the best way for our elected officials to bring this crisis to a resolution, I think we can ultimately unite on some WWJD principles.
Are you prepared to act if there actually is no “plan”? Are you prepared to stand up in defense of the poor and the sick and the desperate and the downtrodden? Would Jesus do that? I think Jesus would do that, yes.
But how? What would he do? What would he do right now?
That’s a good question…