“What in the holy name of God is happening in this world? The division, hatred, exclusions, borders, politics. WHAT AM I TO DO?”
This is the echo of the cries of many people as 2017 has continued to unfold. The cries of people of many faiths… and of no faith.
I have been internally struggling with what I am to do. Protest. Flood Facebook. Create conversation opportunities. All good efforts, certainly, but is it enough? Is it really anything?
As I was listening to Daily Audio Bible for January 30th’, the scripture passages, both Old and New Testaments, the Holy Spirit got my brain pondering.
As the words of Exodus have unfolded in the early chapters, a king, a mere man, but a power-hungry egomaniac man, was leading Egypt and enslaving the Jewish people. Moses, a mere man, but a humble and unwilling participant much of the time, is directed by God to go before the king and demand he let the Jewish people go back to their ancestral land. The king refuses. Time and again at God’s command, Moses returns to the king. Each time the king refuses to free the Israelites from slavery, there are consequences ON ALL THE PEOPLE living in Egypt. Egyptians. Jews. Men, women, children. All of them are dealt the consequences of frogs, body sores, darkness, locusts.
Because of one man, full of power, pride, ego, and money. Because of him, all the people suffer.
Moses, obviously frustrated with God and with the king, and that neither seem to get his exhaustion as the go-between-man of these two hard heads – king and God - keeps returning to God.
Keeps returning to God.
“Ok, God, I did what you said. I protested, I warned the king and his officials heard it, too! But he is going to do what he wants to do. I tried dialoging with him in a calm and diplomatic manner. Natta.”
And God says, “go do it again.”
And Moses returns to God.
And it struck me. Keep returning to God. I fully believe that we should be protesting, if not in groups gathered in airports and courthouses, than in our own personal tribes and nations. I believe we should be a voice in this time of fear, confusion, knee-jerk reactions, and exclusion.
When we do this, we can begin to feel a bit like Moses. “Ok, God. I tried to reason. I put some memes on Facebook, I’ve re-tweeted some quips by famous people, and I signed a petition. AND YET, the every day people of the nations continue to suffer because of the edicts of those in power. Nothing is changing!”
And then we need to return to God. We return to God to get rest. We return to God to be reminded that ultimately He gives life. He gives and He takes. We return to God to be reminded that love always wins and Jesus railed at the egos and power systems of his days.
We return to God for His Spirit to remind us to pray for the enemies of love and openness. We go out into the world living love and openness with every person we encounter – regardless of our agreeing and our likeness.
And then we return to God.
And eventually, God wins. Loves wins. There may be present consequences and pain for the every day people. Plagues of darkness in hearts and lesions on souls.
But the enslaved and the oppressed will eventually be set free. The Promised Land is still on the horizon. There will be giants even there. But God will continue to raise up the Mose’s and Joshua’s and prophets and the true Christ-like voices to stand strong for those who are weak.
Jesus gives the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. The Landowner gives equally to those who were in the right place at the right time and put in a full day’s work for the wages AND to those who seemingly were less fortunate and SHOULD have only received a little.
It struck me that just because some were born into the right place at the right time, into the right family in the right nation, we get to put in a full day’s work. For that we can buy our needs and our status and our education and our safety.
Seemingly, the less fortunate are born into the wrong places. The warring places. The poverty-stricken places. The places of oppression and fear and scarcity.
They cannot buy their way into anything; except maybe a rubber dingy with hope of arriving at a shore that will provide a little bit of work to buy the most basic of needs.
Within the story of God, in His Kingdom that is on this earth, those born into the right nations are not guaranteed any thing more than those born into the wrong places. For us to be angry and exclusive because we just so happen to be born into the prosperity and ability to earn all the comforts of God’s creation… this is simply not Jesus.
Ann Voskamp writes, “We’ve all been the ones outside the gate pleading for someone to risk everything to rescue us. This could break a million little self-righteous pulpits: the brokenness in the world is but the brokenness in our busted hearts.” (The Broken Way, page 201)
We need each other. We need to learn the stories and hardships and hearts of those who did not get the ‘luck of the draw’ in the nations and families they were born into. We need them… just as much as they desperately need us.
For any of this to unfold in a manner that is “in heaven as it is on earth”, we must all return to God. Again and again. And be told again and again “Love the Lord God with all your heart. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Love.
P.S. Here’s a link a beautiful song… we need our people, our church family, our local community. AND we need the broken and oppressed and the different.