It’s understandable if you don’t think that we in the church understand you, “get you,” or even like you. After all, you see our Summit-sized buildings, soaring steeples, SUV filled parking lots scattered around our city while Christians lead the fight to eradicate social services that you need to live. With looming budget cuts for schools essential for your children’s wholeness and health, Texas’ Christians instead deemed as “emergencies” legislative agenda you perhaps thought was ridiculously off-task. I would understand if you didn’t think Christians didn’t like you if you are new to the area and came without papers, or if you were born with an “unnacceptable” sexual orientation; because many don’t like you.
As the world rages in turmoil & violence, struggles over limited resources and massive changes in weather patterns, unemployment and foreclosures, we in the church might appear not to notice. Take for instance what my fellow blogger Ken Chitwood points out in his blog this week: that some Christians have decided the core issue we need to catalyze our resources around and work diligently to pursue is whether or not heaven and hell exist. Important, sure. But perhaps, if we listened to you, we would hear this is not the most helpful use of our time.
For all this and more, “We’re sorry.” We haven’t been there for you when you needed help in the messiness of life. You needed a ride to the doctor and we were splitting theological hairs. Your son is scared now that daddy is back from Iraq, lashing out in anger and fright at the slightest sound; and we needed to know who was right. Undocumented, you live in an immigrant community riddled with crime but don’t feel safe calling our police; and we’re concerned about how many chances you’ll get to “receive Jesus” after you die before our god sends you to hell. You’re living in hell as a victim of human trafficking held against your will and forced to perform unspeakable duties here in Houston, the nations slavery capital; but we wonder aloud if your hell will continue after you die.
I apologize. Please forgive us. This is not the way we are supposed to be. You see, our leader and namesake, Jesus Christ, would understand you if he were here. He would “get” that you are ostracized and feel bullied. He would know if the choices you’ve made, even if they are illegal or unethical at times, were the best thing you knew to do to put food on your kids table. He would understand how bad it feels to be passed by on the street and not noticed. He would totally understand you if you told him your religious leaders weren’t there for you.
And, he would like you. A lot. He wouldn’t waste your time with the afterlife when you are consumed with making it in this life. He talked a lot about love. Loving ourselves, loving our neighbors, and even loving our enemies. He’s pretty good at that. I’m sorry you don’t always experience us, his followers, in the same way. His vision of the world and we humans in it was that everyone would have enough: enough food, enough stuff, enough community and love. Perhaps if we were better at loving you like he asked, it would make more sense when we invite you to love God. Our most important book says that “God loved the world,” and I deeply hope you know God’s love whether you feel love from Jesus’ followers or not.
If you need anything, let us know.
A follower of Jesus