“You’re a Christian? But you’re so nice!”
I’ll never forget these words, spoken to me by a friend of mine from my college’s theatre program. He was one of my more eccentric friends, more blunt than most, and he was also very openly gay. His exclamation of surprise may be the instance that I remember the most, but he certainly wasn’t the only person during my college years to express their surprise at the thought of Christians living by principles of love rather than intolerance, or at the very least, indifference.
It wasn’t until I started getting into politics that I really began examining just how strange some of the more vocal positions of the conservative right might look to a person who has never sat in a pew. How are we as Christians supposed to preach love and tolerance if we are only elevating issues that demonstrate our intolerance toward anyone whose views differ from our own? How can we listen to sermons about the story of the Good Samaritan and the importance of taking care of the poor if our policies are geared toward stripping the government programs that might actually help a family in need? How can we be good stewards of the earth if we don’t pay attention to its warning signals?
To this day, many of the hot-button topics of “religious freedom” seem disingenuous to me, and sometimes even downright cruel. Limiting access to contraception, defunding public schools, calling programs that are designed to assist the poor “handouts,” denying access to basic healthcare, using fearful and derisive language in discussing homosexuality and immigration – it’s no wonder so many of my college friends had such a hard time reconciling the idea of a faith that appears to preach love and then legislate the opposite!
I believe that everyone should have the right to clean drinking water, breathable air, accessible food, basic healthcare, and simple respect as a fellow human being. I believe that life is a miracle that should be treasured and loved unconditionally from the womb to the grave, and that we should all strive to follow the teachings of the Prince of Peace, who calls us to “Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
As we settle into the New Year, I would like to challenge myself more than ever to turn these issues into a Biblical call to action, and to also challenge others to do the same. I truly do believe it is possible to examine the state of our country and world using Biblical principles and love. It is a tragedy that any child should die because they have no food, or because they had to drink from unclean water, and it is a tragedy that any human being should take their own life because they never got to experience what genuine unconditional love feels like.
Our churches need to work together to protect the poor, the vulnerable, the sick, and the oppressed, but this aid and this love shouldn’t stop at the church gates. If we were to make our voices heard, advocating and living by these principles in our daily lives, just imagine how much we could accomplish! Then may we truly be the salt and the light to the world.
“‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:35-40)
Krystal Brewer is Resources and Circulation Assistant for Sojourners.
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