I need you to know a few things before you read any further…
First, This is directed towards anyone who calls themselves a follower of Jesus. I’m not addressing what we should do as a country, rather what we should do as a Church (primarily in America, but this certainly applies elsewhere).
Second, I’m going to paint with broad strokes. I know that not every Church and certainly not every Christian is sitting idly. But as a whole, we have some issues that need to be addressed.
Third (and most importantly), I intend for this to be read introspectively. This isn’t an attack on “them”, rather a mirror for you and me. After all the church isn’t a building, it’s us. So when there’s a problem it’s not their problem, it’s my problem and it’s your problem.
With that in mind, let’s start with a question.
Do We Really Value All Lives Equally?
Sure, we value some lives. One of the things that the American Church is best known for is valuing the lives of unborn babies. There is almost nothing we won’t do to protect their lives. We could argue methodology, but the heart of this pursuit is good. We deeply care and value their life.
But do we equally value the life of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Jordan Edwards, and all the others that have been senselessly killed because they were guilty by the color of their skin?
Do we even care about the scared little girl that sits in a holding cell separated from her parents?
What about the terrified woman that was already struggling and now a child on the way, do we care about her life? Or just that she doesn’t get an abortion?
Are we willing to fight for those lives with the same passion and fervor that we fight for the lives of unborn children?
You see, I don’t think we value all lives equally. We boldly stand for some while ignoring the cries of others.
And I know, we have all the excuses in the book. It’s just a few bad apples, it’s not really a problem in our country. We can’t let EVERYONE into our country, terrorists might come in. That mom shouldn’t even consider that. The parents should have thought things through before they tried to sneak into the country. He shouldn’t have ran. He should have just given himself up. We don’t have the money to help everyone. They shouldn’t act like that. That protest isn’t okay. If they just…
The problem is we’ve made this a political issue, a national security issue, their issue… But, it’s not. If you are a Christian, it’s YOUR issue.
Each person that has been profiled by the color of their skin. Each one of those kids that are sitting in a detention cell through no fault of their own. Each one of those moms that are considering abortion. Each one of those people we just walk by. Each of lives… Each one is loved by God. Each one is created in HIS image. Each one has intrinsic value.
It’s time to stop with the excuses and to start valuing all lives equally. The Church should be tirelessly fighting for all lives that are in jeopardy because each person is created in the image of God.
Life is sacred. It doesn’t matter if the life belongs to an unborn baby, a 40yr black man, an immigrant seeking safety, or someone who is stressed, oppressed, or overlooked. Their life is highly valued by the Creator of the universe. And their life should also be highly valued by anyone who bears His name. That’s our mission.
But we’ve replaced our God-given mission with our desire for safety, comfort, and security. We’d rather have a comfortable life in a safe country. And those desires aren’t inherently bad. But when they become the primary driving force we lose our effectiveness, our saltiness. And what good is salt that loses its saltiness? (Matthew 5:13)
Least we forget that we serve a God that literally became helpless in pursuit of us. A God that willingly went to the cross to make a way for us to get back to Him. We serve a God that went through hell on our behalf. And the call of Christians is to do the same for others. Love is, after all, the distinguishing mark of a follower of Jesus.
If the primary driving force in your life is safety and comfort you have stopped following in the footsteps of Jesus. I don’t say that as an insult, but a reminder. One that I know I need.
The mission of Christians is not to seek safety. It’s not to pursue comfort. It’s to seek and love the lost, the hurting, and the opposed. And let’s be honest. As a whole, we could be doing better.
Following In Jesus Footsteps
I know to this point that this might have seemed a bit like a rant. And I guess it was. So now, I want to shift gears and look at how we can follow in Jesus’ footsteps. We are, after all, His hands and feet. So we should probably be doing what He did.
I want to look at three aspects of following in Jesus’ footsteps as it relates to the people He interacted with. They are: where Jesus went, what Jesus did, and how Jesus felt.
Let’s start with the first one.
Where Did Jesus Go?
If you were to take a quick overview of the Gospels you would find Jesus is often in one of these three places:
- Alone (often praying/resting)
- With His closest friends (community)
- With the opposed/forgotten (the sick, sinners, and culturally insignificant people)
Obviously that’s not an exhaustive list of the places Jesus went. But if you read through the Gospels you would find Jesus is often in or heading to, one of those three places.
We are good at the first two, well at least the second one. That last one though, not so much. It’s messy, it’s dirty, and it can be a little dangerous. But to be the hands and feet of Jesus we have to go to the people He went too.
Whenever there’s someone being opposed, unfairly treated, or going through hell the Church should be right there beside them.
Which leads us to the second question, what did Jesus do?
What Did Jesus Do?
Maybe the most applicable story for us today is found in John 8:1-11. The story of the woman caught in the act of adultery. This woman was unfairly accused and was in great danger of being harmed by those in authority. What does Jesus do? He stepped in and defended her.
Jesus got between her and the attackers. He stood toe to toe with her accusers. He defended her in a bold, yet nonviolent way. And don’t miss this, at great risk to himself.
The reality is she wasn’t totally innocent. She had some blame. But that didn’t make how she was being treated okay. That didn’t justify her attacker’s actions. Often for us to actually stick our neck out for someone we want to know they are innocent. But Jesus didn’t do that, he stood with her not because she was innocent but because she was in dire need of a friend, an advocate, and a savior.
That, I think, is maybe the best example for us to follow today. The Church should be defending those that cannot defend themselves. We should stand up for those that are facing unfair treatment. We should be friends and advocates to those being opposed and in doing so we can point them to our savior.
And if it puts us at risk, so be it. Their life is worth it because Jesus said so when He went to the cross. And our charge is to pick up our cross (to die to our wants/desires) and do the same.
Which leads to the final question, how did Jesus feel when he interacted with people?
How Did Jesus Feel?
Maybe what amazed people the most was the way Jesus felt for those He interacted with. Jesus was genuinely moved by the people he encountered. He showed His emotions, He empathized. That’s one of the things that attracted people to Him. He actually cared about them and what they were going through.
Here’s three emotions He displayed:
- Compassion (like with the woman at the well)
- Grief (like facing the death of Lazarus)
- Anger Over Injustices (like flipping tables in the temple)
Imagine if the Church was known for those things. If we were actually known for genuinely caring and empathizing with people. If we had compassion for the suffering. Regardless of what brought them to that place. If we cried with those grieving another senseless act of violence. If we got filled with righteous anger over the injustices done to people and kids in our country.
Imagine the impact, the difference, the Church could make if we just embodied these three emotions.
I think Jesus if He were here today he would be sitting with that mom that’s considering an abortion. Showing her true love and empathizing with her through her struggles.
I think if Jesus were here today He would be weeping, I mean weeping, with the friends and family of George Floyd.
I think if Jesus were here today he would be flipping the preverbal tables over the injustices that are happening in our country.
The question for us is, will we be His hands and feet? Will we go where Jesus went? Will we do what Jesus did? Will we feel what Jesus felt? Will we stand in the gap for those that are being opposed, neglected, and forgotten about? Or will we continue to just sit idly by content with our comfort and safety?
It’s time for the Church to get off the sidelines and into the game. It’s time for us to value all lives equally. We have the hope that the world is in desperate need of. This country right now needs a Church that is going to the people that are hurting. Crying with them. Listening to them. Standing between them and their accusers. And showing them the hope that we have in Christ.
Will you go? Will you be the hands and feet of Jesus?
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