As I observe the state of our nation, I am increasingly concerned, especially with the state of the faith community at large. Many folks call the U.S. a Christian nation, and yet, in practice, we are anything but. While we increase our spending on military machines, we not only don’t welcome strangers and orphans, we actually imprison and fear them. In the name of safety, we have become the very thing we fear. Fear is a powerful motivator for the justification of evil.
In his book “The Holy Longing”, Roelheiser recounts a letter from a woman whose ache and lack of faith in God came as a result of the incapacity of Christians to truly have a loving, reciprocal relationship with her.
This courageous woman pours out her pain:
“Don’t come talk to me of God, come to my door with religious pamphlets, or ask me whether I am saved. Hell holds no threat more agonizing than the harsh reality of my own life. I swear to you that the fires of hell seem more inviting than the bone-deep cold of my own life. And don’t talk to me of church. What does the church know of my despair- barricaded behind its stained-glass windows against the likes of me? Forgiveness was never given me. The healing love that I sought was carefully hoarded, reserved for your own kind. So be gone from me and speak no more of God. I’ve seen your God made manifest in you and he is a God without compassion. So long as your God withholds the warmth of human touch from me, I shall remain an unbeliever.”
The human touch was what she needed most to meet God. She wanted to experience God in the softness of our eyes, in the warm scent of our clothes, through the gentle touch of our hands, in the calm truth of our words, and the stillness of our listening ears. But we never let her get close enough.
Her words are timely. Our political landscape has become defined by “us vs. them”, “liberal vs. conservative”; “right vs. wrong”, while those who sit on the sidelines of our faith are hurting and longing to be loved and included. Will we help them to experience an authentic, loving faith of hospitality, rooted in humanity and divinity?
I believe the majority of American Christians are heading in the wrong direction.
As my friend Rob, who is an atheist, shared recently:
“Your continued support of this administration not only permanently disqualifies you from claiming “moral authority” ever again, but your continued support of a president whose behavior is now flat-out treasonous nullifies any claims of your patriotism. Basically, don’t lecture me on anything, ever again. This atheist lefty knows more about patriotism and Christian values than you appear to.”
What we believe shows in how we live, not what we preach. Currently, children remain locked in cages like animals, and those outside of Christianity watch as the so-called “torch bearers” of our faith like James Dobson continue to vomit hypocritical rhetoric that harms our most vulnerable neighbors to our South. I am not saying that the Left somehow has the answer, but I am saying that Christians should be leading with the charge of love, rather than fear. I look to folks like the Global Immersion Project, who regularly demonstrate the radical love of Jesus to the stranger. Theirs is a faith that I long to emulate.