“I am spiritually exhausted. I’ve spent the last 36 hours weeping with those desperately frightened by this election – girls traumatized by fear more boys are emboldened to abuse them, black parents worried their children are more likely to be shot by police, LGBTs who fear open attack on the streets, hardworking Hispanic Christians who fear deportations and family breakups. This is a disaster.”
This, from an evangelical pastor speaking to thirty conservative pastors in a prayer retreat I attended yesterday. Many murmurs of assent. I heard anguish from the one who drove me to the event and from the pastor who drove me home. Later another pastor shared similar crushing stories of distress and confessed his anger that so much of American Christianity caused this disaster.
These pastors and missionaries used phrases like “the churches made a bargain with the Devil,” voting for one who “gleefully admits without repentance to embodying the seven cardinal sins,” and, our nation has chosen “to worship the Golden Calf.” These pro-life Christians seemed to disdain the hypocrisy of single-minded trust in government to reduce abortions joined to the total rejection of government for everything else.
What would the real Jesus do? Jesus weeps with those who weep. Jesus shouldered all our abuses. As one pastor said, “Jesus drank the full bowl of wrath on our behalf.”
I have no idea what this might mean for me. But somehow, like Jesus, I want to become totally identified with the frightened girl, the black parent, the LGBT, the Hispanic family, and with all the lost and broken outcasts who expect more abuse. I seek suggestions.
I am a rich white male. In my privilege I can easily walk away from the one beaten down. I can spend my time arguing politics or theology as abstract ideas, secure because “Christ has created in me a clean heart,” ignoring those who my sin has traumatized. But if I want to follow the real Jesus I cannot. I must change. I hear Jesus saying to us today
“Away from me, you who say ‘Lord, Lord, we prophesy in your name and perform many miracles.’ I tell you plainly, I never knew you. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was an alien and you did not invite me in, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these you did not do for me.” (See Matt. 7:21 and 25:41)
Forgive my sons who claim the Light
Yet see through such dark glass
Anorexics they appear to you
So small where I am vast
Their plastic Jesus kept you away
Like their sad trust in war
They simply can’t imagine
That it’s them I’m crying for.
— Dear Leonard, by Roger Dewey