I recently picked up a fascinating book called Octavia's Brood co-edited by Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown.
In a discussion about the book, Walidah Imarisha said, "All organizing is science fiction. What does a world without poverty look like? What does a world without prisons look like? What does a world with everyone having enough food and clothing look like? We don't know. It's science fiction, and it is as foreign to us as the Klingon homeworld."
I had never heard of organizing being discussed in such a way, and it led me to reflect on the importance of envisioning and dreaming of the kind of society we fight to create. I also found myself reflecting on this statement in a different light: All organizing is also theological and spiritual. A simple explanation of this is that organizing and activism is faith in action.
As Christians, justice is at the heart of our discipleship. We are called to fight for and with the marginalized and the oppressed so that every person's humanity is recognized to the fullest extent and equity becomes a reality. But when we work vigorously toward this goal, we are doing more than just being faithful and obedient to our call. We are attempting to embody and bring into fruition the summation of the Christian message: a 'new creation.'
Paul writes about the importance of this new creation in two of his letters to the early churches.
Galatians 6:15 reads, "For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation."
And in 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul writes, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, [they are] a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
On these passages Paul Tillich writes, "Christianity is the message of the New Creation, the New Being, the New Reality... We belong to the Old Creation, and the demand made upon us by Christianity is that we also participate in the New Creation."
Aside from the personal transformation that inevitably happens when we enter into a union with Jesus Christ, working continuously to transform the lives of others and to radically transform the world in which we live is how we involve ourselves in the New Creation. This New Creation may be foreign to us, but it is certainly not fiction. We know it to be true because it is manifest in Jesus — and partly in us — as a power that drives us to fulfill that which is not yet present. Our very actions signify that God's promise of a world without evil and oppressive systems is one that God will keep. It is through the exercising of our hope that our faith in God's promise of a New Creation becomes apparent.
Jürgen Moltmann describes this best when he writes,
"Hope is nothing else than the expectation of those things which faith has believed to have been truly promised by God. Thus, faith believes God to be true, hope awaits the time when this truth shall be manifested; faith believes that he is our Father, hope anticipates that he will ever show himself to be a Father toward us ... faith is the foundation on which hope rests, hope nourishes and sustains faith."
Nothing is more telling of the Old Creation than a society that spends billions of dollars to house approximately 25 percent of the world's prisoners while only making up roughly four percent of the world's population; a society where one in five children are living in poverty; a society where police killing of black people is systemic, routinized, and usually without legal consequence; a society where people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ community are discriminated against and subject to violence; a society that has been corrupted, distorted, split, and almost destroyed.
Organizing as a spiritual discipline is only one of several ways we can participate in the New Creation. But it is perhaps the most practical. When we actively seek justice and try to love this society into a better place, we are not just fighting the forces that want us to relapse into the Old Creation. Nor are we solely placing our hopes into something that will come far into the future. We are revolutionizing and transforming the present.
As Paul Tillich writes, "A New state of things has appeared, it still appears; it is hidden and visible, it is there and it is here. Accept it, enter into it, let it grasp you."