Gaining an understanding of the relationship between what’s going on in your life and God is essential if Jesus is your Lord and Savior. Right now, this means coming to grips with why white privilege, why proclaiming Black Lives Matter and why eradicating racism matters to God. It’s actually pretty simple – it’s all about God’s Justice. Genesis states that all human beings are created in the image of God. Old Testament prophets boldly proclaim God’s Justice on a regular basis. Jesus paints a picture of what God’s Reign is like through his parables, teaching and death on a cross. Paul states unequivocally that there is no difference between people when they are in Christ. And the Book of Revelation promises a new heaven and new earth. Yet many of us who are Christians begin with our ideology, politics and staying safely within our comfort zones. Now is the time for us to clearly understand what God’s Justice demands and get our values, beliefs and actions in line with the divine.
I know it’s true. Indeed, it’s so powerful I can’t ignore it. And if I succeed for a little while, it wells up until I have to address it. It’s the realization that the Holy Spirit is prodding me to do some serious work because I am a disciple of Jesus. I need to express my outrage about the killing of George Floyd. I must initiate conversations with persons who are black so I can simply listen to their pain and hurt. And I have to grapple seriously with how deeply my own soul has been tinged by the racism I thought I had freed myself from. Sure it’s hard, and at times gut-wrenching. But this is exactly what I agreed to do when I chose to be a Jesus’ follower.
Sometimes I wish I could wake up and discover it’s all a dream. But it’s not. The pain, the suffering, the injustice, the hopelessness, the despair and the division is all too real. What is more, you don’t even seem to have time to heal from one crisis before another flares up. So how can you break this pattern? By reclaiming a basic tenant of the Christian faith that seems to have been conveniently set aside – sin. Sin is anything that separates you from God, is contrary to God’s Will and causes harm to others. Sure, this may feel like just another negative when you already have too many negatives in your life. But naming sin is also the first step to wholeness – a journey that continues as you confess, repent and head in a new direction, experience God’s forgiveness in Christ that makes all things new, are reconciled with God and others, and begin to live a transformed life through the Holy Spirit. Naming things like the politicalization of Covid-19, racism, hungry children and the abuse of women as sin can be painful, especially when you need to name your own role in it. But it’s also the beginning of your reconciliation with God and our neighbor.
I must confess that I have felt utterly incapable of making any significant difference in recent days as I grieve the death of a colleague, watch Covid-19 increasingly become a political issue while the death toll mounts, hear the increasing drumbeat in my beloved United Methodist Church calling for division, and observe the deep and justified pain resulting from yet another murder of yet another Black man. It all seems so much bigger than me that I begin to think I am powerless to do anything. Until I remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 13:31-32, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” I’ll never change the world by myself. And I don’t have to. But I can ask the Holy Spirit to nurture the seed of the kingdom of heaven Jesus has planted in me until it overshadows my sense of powerlessness, and I do what God is calling me to do.
Long ago, Jesus’ followers were gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem; befuddled, lost and uncertain about what was next. Then You sent a sound like a rushing wind that shook the building, and tongues of fire that danced in their midst. It was Your Holy Spirit, empowering those disciples to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel in the languages of every nation on earth. You had birthed Your Church in a burst of divine energy that formed confused individuals into the Body of Christ.
Today, we confess that those of us who follow Jesus are just as befuddled, lost and uncertain about what is next in a world of Covid-19, racism, poverty and hopelessness. Sadly, however, we have failed to acknowledge the reality of our condition. But no longer. We ask You on this Pentecost Sunday to send Your Holy Spirit just as dramatically as You did long ago. Rebirth us so that we come alive as One Body of Christ that boldly and faithfully proclaims the Good News of the Gospel through what we say and, even more importantly, what we do.
Lord, it is time – past time.
Lord, we are ready – desperately ready.
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
Your heart rightly breaks over much in life. Sometimes it’s something you’re going through. At other times it involves someone you love. And then there are those times it’s because of the horrific things that happen to people you don’t know. You rightly reach out to God whenever your heart breaks, seeking healing for yourself and interceding for others. And God does. But sometimes, God does something else. God fans the flames of your broken heart into holy outrage so that you speak out, act and work to change things. Indeed, this is exactly what God wants to happen in you when you see millions of children going to bed hungry each night; observe a black man like George Floyd senselessly killed by police officers, and realize it’s part of a much larger pattern in our nation of unrelenting racism; or see the faces of those who are denied adequate medical care because they don’t have financial resources to pay. You should never shy away from holy outrage. You should welcome it. And then you need to do something about it.