But what does the world say?
The world says there is a Church who is adding pain to the ripped open flesh of her wound, rather than one who is nursing her back to health. The world says there is a Church who is blind, who is stubborn, who is hateful. Most Christians feel otherwise because we have experienced otherwise. But how do we respond to a world who is clearly telling us that something has gone very, very wrong?
- In the second and third centuries, it was common practice for people to take babies that they didn't want (due to disability, undesired gender, etc) and leave them in the woods to die. Christians would notoriously go out and look for the abandoned infants, take them in, and raise them as their own.
- Quakers and persons of other Christian denominations, both black and white, played a valuable role in leading slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad.
- Numberless Christians became martyrs during the Holocaust for concealing Jews, in their own homes or otherwise. One revered Catholic saint, priest Maximilian Kolbe, volunteered to die in Auschwitz in place of a married man with a child.
- An overwhelming number of black leaders of the 1960s civil rights movement were Christian, many of whom were pastors, including MLK Jr. Countless white clergy also joined in the march on Selma.
We are still here, that Church who loves justice. Don't be fooled by the media, or by your Facebook feed, or by fanatics with hateful words on signs who claim to represent a God of mercy. There is still a Church who takes a stand for the oppressed, who defends human dignity, who articulates their views with total respect for the opposing side.
I believe these are such times.
People of America- especially you who have been routinely mistreated, oppressed, misunderstood, judged, and hated by your country- we speak to you today. You are seen, you are heard, and you are valued because you are a human being. We may not see eye to eye on everything, but thankfully, that's not a requirement for friendship. We may at times reveal our ignorance as we seek to understand you, but may we be changed by your correction. We are committed to a Christianity that receives all people as gifts and that pushes itself onto no one. We believe that you should first see the beauty of this Christ we love, and only next determine for yourself how to respond to Him.
To my friends in Christ: these are indeed tumultuous times we are living in. May the Church who has gone before us- willing to suffer, to demonstrate, to risk, to die - count us worthy.