The Activist's Prayer of Salvation
Not too long ago a former colleague of mine at World Relief posted on Facebook that she had not only recently experienced a personal loss but also suffered as a result of a systemic injustice that is being perpetuated at the hands of corrupt and heartless politicians and a majority of our society that is indifferent enough to not effectively demand a change. What followed in the massive stream of comments below was maddening. Again and again, Facebook 'friends' shared how sorry they were for her and her family's loss and that they would be 'praying' for God's comfort. A few briefly noted how unfair her situation was...and that was it. The vast majority completely ignored the injustice she had lamented in her post! I can only imagine how she must have felt to be so thoroughly dismissed. What is more unnerving is to ponder how comfortable so many 'people of faith' have become with mocking the whole concept of prayer by using it as an excuse to not act. It reveals a dangerously myopic religion that is perfectly satirized in this gem I found on YouTube...
Houses of Indifference
Church facilities are often referred to as 'houses of worship' but I wonder if 'houses of indifference' might be a more accurate title. In my forty-two years within evangelical Christianity here in America, I witnessed and sadly participated in these religious gatherings that are basically a corporate expression of the same mentality I witnessed in the Facebook condolences I mentioned earlier. We would take a few minutes to pray together over the most recent tragedy, but out of fear of becoming 'political' we would steer far away from collectively educating ourselves on the cause of the tragedy and then mobilizing to affect necessary change. The exception to this would be natural disasters--those are conveniently beyond human responsibility--or whenever our 'religious liberty' was threatened by the godless hordes of liberal teachers, politicians, judges, news media, and celebrities.
time for an alter call
But I want to stop right there. I am mindful that even right now there is someone who may be reading this blog while they are sitting in church listening to another safely generic message on how to "love God" and "one another" or how to improve one's life by following these few "principles from God's Word". I'm sensing that there is someone out there that needs a spiritual breakthrough. Deep in your soul you know that there is something wrong. I'm here to tell you today that this is your conscience whispering to you. In view of the unspeakable injustices in our world, you are feeling drawn to come forward and, you know, actually do something. And you can experience true peace and a new purpose today. It all begins with a simple prayer. Just repeat after me...
Please help me...
to get off...
Congratulations! An exciting life of actually making a difference awaits you. You will just need to take a few practical steps. First, you will have to actually get off your ass. This will likely include spending many hours educating yourself on social issues and their root causes and potential solutions. Be forewarned that this might require painful introspection as you consider how you might have knowingly or unknowingly contributed to the wide-scale suffering of entire racial, ethnic or economic groups. Then, you will need to decide with other activists what political, economic and/or social actions you need to take in order to implement these solutions. Lastly, this is good news that we can together take action that will help make this world a better place for everyone. Why would you want to keep it to yourself? You need to go out into the 'highways and byways' and proclaim the activist gospel. Fortunately for you, I've developed a simple tool you can use to invite others to join you in this, in some cases, literally life-giving journey. I would like to conclude by sharing this tool with you. All you will need is 1) a pen and 2) a piece of paper (a restaurant napkin will suffice). Then you will need to commit to memory the Three Activist Laws. That's one less than Christian evangelists require so you should find this to be a breeze! They are as follows...
- There is some messed up shit in this world that needs to changed (war, poverty, etc.).
- The problem is that you are sitting on your ass.
- You need to get off your ass and do something about it. (Side note: I'm pretty sure the Bible says you are supposed to do this.)
Below is a sample of how you might illustrate these principles as you present the activist gospel to others who attend your church.
So schedule that cup of coffee with your pastor, deacon or any other member of your church. Don't be discouraged if most of them deride you as being judgmental or divisive. This is unfortunately very common. Still, there might be a few who see the light and I look forward to hearing the exciting stories of transformation and the actual good that comes from these changed lives.