Follower of Jesus (10)
Jan 29, 2017
Follower of Jesus (10)
Responding to a Humanitarian Crises
I have been watching with increasing trepidation the beginning phases of the presidency of Donald J. Trump. His choices of personnel for the cabinet displays his personal goal of erasing much of the progressive good of the past 100 or more years. Besides throwing 18 million or more off of medical insurance, (according to best estimates) he has chosen people who have expressed not just climate denial, but opposition to any minimum wage to lead the labor dept., opposition to any regulations on businesses to lead that department, opposition to public schools to lead the education department, one who has fought vigorously against the civil rights movements to be the attorney general, has placed a known white supremacist as his most trusted advisor, has derided our intelligence departments in favor of the Russian intelligence group, and so much more.
I was told to wait and see, he will be a good person once he takes office. So, I waited. His inaugural speech was filled with the exact same talk as before. Some of his first actions have been to give an executive order to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and to remove any mention of climate change from the white house web site, and stop any immigration, even of those who legally live in this country already (green card holders.) this is now being challenged in court. Trump is who he says, a person devoid of any morals who only demands to gain more and more personal power.
Jesus would not say ‘America first, above all’ as Trump proclaimed over and over in his inauguration speech. Can he carry out his threats without destroying humanity? And no, Jesus never said ‘Jewish state first, above all’, in fact Jesus showed by many of his talks and parables that humans come first, in the sense of aiding the poor, etc., no matter what their nationality, often mentioning a foreign and despised foreign group.
As a person attempting to be a follower of Jesus, what should be my response? I have been struggling to answer this internal question, and on Martin Luther King’s Day I heard and arrived at the answer: non-violence but firm opposition. I heard a stirring sermon from a Catholic priest, Fr. Michael Pfleger, who preached the primary message at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, MLK’s church. His talk was a fiery talk that fully supported the efforts of Martin Luther King, including non-violent resistance. (Fr. Pfleger is a priest from one of the most conflicted areas of Chicago, where he works with gang members to change behaviors.)
His fiery speech embroiled everything that a follower of Jesus would do. Jesus himself was not afraid to face those he was against, calling them vipers and white washed sepulchers; and he did action by driving the money changers out of the temple. Jesus spoke fervently, calling his listeners to a new way of life: to be one with all and to love all, and I mean all, equally. He welcomed the shunned (the woman at the well), and he showed his preference for those despised by the ‘righteous ones’, especially the Pharisees, such as tax collectors, prostitutes, and lepers, because these understood exactly why they were the shunned and admitted it, while the ‘righteous ones’ considered themselves to be too ‘holy’ to be seen with the shunned ones.
But at the same time, Jesus never proclaimed violence against anyone. He called some of the Pharisees vipers and other deadly names, but he was hoping that such action would shock them into change. A few changed, but only a very few.
Non-violence as preached by Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Desmund TuTu and others were a challenge, and it took thousands to make it play well and the willingness to suffer and even die to achieve results, but eventually results were gained if the government they were protesting had any compassion in their system. In our own country, the efforts by Martin Luther King and John Lewis and many others won the civil rights battles back in the 1960’s and 70’s. We may see efforts to roll some of that back, but similar protesting can and will bring justice and compassion back to the fore again.
We too are a nation that is like a whitened sepulcher. We have patted ourselves on the back by our ‘progress’, when much of that so-called progress has been punched back and ignored through massive voter intimidation and laws to prevent the poorer segment (which consists primarily of people who are non-white) face laws and mandates that restrict their voting rights and ability to achieve progress.
We can make substantial progress through the system of laws, which has proven a great way for some changes in the ways we function as a nation.
But laws do not change hearts. It was hoped that over time the hearts of people would change, and they have, but only in minor degrees. The acceptance by so many of the vulgarities of the new president, their obvious approval of many of his hate-filled statements, his choices for his cabinet, illustrates the “whitened sepulchers” that function in so many layers of our nation.
The raw nature of our underlying feels of our nation was exposed for the world to see, and see it they did. The recoil of the world’s opinion after the election bears witness to the horror that most of the first world received the results. Now the world sits in fear for what the new president may decide with a tweet; how soon before some drastic move is taken on a whim that could cause the world to become unstable?
How does a follower of Jesus respond? We will look more at this next time.
Oh Wisdom, how do we respond? The present time is a wakeup call to Your followers, we claim to be the faces of God on earth, and now we must turn our faces outward if we are to be truly followers of Jesus, the Christ. Two thousand years ago Jesus spoke truths that we have nodded our heads in conformation, but at this time and this place we are being called to put our faith and understandings of the words and actions of Jesus: will we step forward and potentially face the wrath of friends, neighbors, family, the government?
This is the question that faces us, and we bow our heads in response to the call. Help us, oh font of Wisdom, help us at this moment of truth.
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