I have a hard time putting into words what I’m thinking about these days. I’ve gone inward mostly with my dialogue. Which isn’t all bad. It’s good to check yourself without a public audience. However, I know we need to continue the dialogue in the greater world as well. And that dialogue is one of how we do the mission, the work of justice in our world and country.. even as justice is being seen more and more as unholy work. As Social Justice Warrior becomes a bad word, a term that is used derogatorily towards those that hold a passion and missional bent towards the present equality and justice issues. I do have an understanding of why we are despised, there can be bad seeds and there are those that use violence instead of love. Movements towards justice always clash as they try to break through the walls of tradition, ingrained ideology and worldview. It only takes looking back in our countries history to see this.
I want to be clear here. I know I have perpetuated violence towards those that are in opposition to my own views. Not violence through action, but violence through words. And I have been convicted and I apologize for this. I am sorry to those that I have wounded. My goal as I write is not to wound anyone personally. But it’s a tricky line. One where I know my words may be offensive, because shining light on justice issues is often offensive. However, being offensive and wounding are two different things. If I have wounded you. I am sorry.
So how do we do this Jesus justice in a holy way? And how can we work towards peace when peace will only be held once equality and justice have been met? Love is the buzz word. But what is love (baby don’t hurt me)? I’m learning that it’s reclaiming or developing a vision of Spiritual Warfare. Taking the battle against people to a battle against the forces behind the scene. And what comes from this is love. So, no this doesn’t mean going quiet. This means we realize that the war is an ongoing battle, and our weapon is love. This means our battle for equality means showing love to those that don’t agree with us. This means continuing to speak up and speaking our truth with humility and love. Richard Beck writes in his book Reviving Old Scratch, “If our political struggle for justice is to resist the temptations toward dehumanization and hatred, it must be accompanied by this deeper spiritual struggle to love our enemies. Love is what prevents the political struggle from dehumanizing and demonizing flesh and blood.”
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
Romans 12:9-10, The MSG
So here we are: Love. It sounds simple. But it’s the hardest thing in this world. I fail daily. I’m tempted away from it constantly. We are drawn towards “othering” each other. Sacrificial love feels impossible. But it’s where we’re called. It’s not to the far left and it’s not to the far right. It’s Christ-centered. Carrying the cross of Jesus, sacrificing ourselves in love for our neighbors, who may or may not agree with us.
I struggle immensely with how to apply this sacrificial love towards those that don’t see the problems of systemic injustices. I struggle because I know some things. I know what I’ve learned about our present day communal sins: Racism, patriarchy, violence towards sexual minorities. I struggle because I also know that I am tempted to make monsters out of those that oppose me on these topics. So I inwardly battle as I try to make sense of it all. It’s safe to say that I won’t ever figure it all out. But try I will.
Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
1 John 4:7-21
So here we go brothers and sisters. Come with me, will you? Here we go into battle, equipped only with the sacrificial love of Christ. Knowing that this love will be seen as weakness, but that it is the embodiment of Spiritual strength against the unseen enemy. We name the systems of evil. We remember that we must not make those that are caught in the snares of these forces the enemy, but we must work in love to liberate them from the chains. We must acknowledge that it is possible to be caught ourselves in the apathy of evil and systems of oppression. We press on, ever questioning the systems and our allegiances. Blanketing the world in love.
Let it be so.