Jesus was very aware of his social and political surroundings. Most of his ministry seems to be focused on the systems and practices—religious or social or political or economic—that needed changing, that needed turning upside down, that needed to be challenged and addressed head on. And Jesus does that, he does that fearlessly and with conviction, keeping people—God’s children—whoever they may have been, in the center of his ministry, pointing out that it’s not about how this person or these persons serve and benefit the systems of power, but instead how the systems and those with power and privilege ought to serve and help those without status and resources, and those on the margins.
Not much have changed since those days. Actually, let me take that back. A lot has changed since then. Let me explain: There are still those broken systems in place that take advantage of those without privilege or at least let them fall through the cracks, but many Christians—many of those of us who have vowed to follow Jesus and his teachings—have become somewhat complacent and now have this tendency to interpret Jesus’s teachings only from the spiritual perspective, more or less like metaphors for our spiritual lives; all the while there are still those who are falling in between the cracks, those who are hungry, those without a home or health insurance, those who are seeking safety and freedom, those who are persecuted because they lack documentation, or have a heavy accent or do not speak the country’s language or are a few shades darker than what a majority prefers.
Now don’t take me wrong! There are many Christian churches who have made it their mission to work for justice and for the transformation of the broken systems in our society. But how many other churches do not engage in this work? It’s troublesome how those two millennia have managed to distract us from who Jesus really is: A Jewish boy born to parents with hardly any resources, born in a barn, a refugee, later without a home, a rebel, and finally falsely convicted and then executed as one of the worst criminals. The one who hung out with women, oftentimes elevating them as an example, empowering them by a call to the same kind of mission and ministry as the guys around him. The one who set out to challenge his own religion, not out of spite, but out of love and justice for all people. The one with a skin several shades darker than mine, Middle Eastern, living without comforts that we have grown used to over the years.
And I get it, it’s so much easier to look the other way; it’s so much easier to just pray (thoughts and prayers kind of approach) rather than letting God to use our gifts and experiences to become the answers to our prayers; it’s so much easier to interpret our sacred scriptures metaphorically, as those pertaining to our spiritual lives alone. But the more I read and study these same scriptures, the Bible, the Word of God, the more I hear Christ’s call to set out on a journey out of my comfort zone and continue the work of justice, peace, and love that Christ has begun two millennia ago.
Happy Monday, beloveds,