Progressive Christians: We've Got Work to Do
Since the election, I have been swimming in worry and confusion. I spent Wednesday scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, hoping that something I saw there would help things make more sense. Instead, every report of the aftermath, every prediction about Trump's policies, and every post assigning blame only made me feel more despair about the effects of this decision. It is not so much the emboldened white nationalists, the fear-driven policies, or the tax plan that worry me; compassion and justice can overcome these things. It is the responses I see that make me fear for the future of our country.
Many of my friends are, like me, “liberal” Christians who are white and have least to fear for their personal safety and dignity. I have to confess that the majority of their posts have disappointed me a bit; every new Trump quote or revelation sparks a new chorus of wails. I am wondering when we will get around to doing the hard work the next four years are going to require of us.
We have work to do in our own communities: finding more ways to stand in solidarity with those who are threatened, building understanding rather than contempt across party lines, and caring for the poor and the planet when a man who considers them disposable takes power.
But we also have work to do in our own hearts. We have seen that Trump’s only guiding value is the seizure of power and privilege over others. When will the church recognize that we can only oppose such actions through Jesus’ way of humility? This could be the moment educated liberals take the chance to re-evaluate our tactics and our rhetoric: Will we continue to deride and berate people who do not share the privilege of education, experience with diversity, economic opportunity? Or will trade our need to be right for a dogged determination to ask the right questions and listen to the answers?
This could be the moment the church takes the chance to re-root itself in the gospel. We hoped that government would be a partner in compassion and justice; it will not be. Will we throw more energy at responding to a government that hasn’t yet been formed? Or will we organize for the kingdom that is coming? Will we learn more words to speak ever more precisely about racism, classism, heterosexism, Islamophobia—or will we draw closer to our neighbors of different colors, classes, and religions?
We have now had a week to come to grips with reality. The time for instinctive reactions is drawing short. Now is the time to carefully consider what it means to effect change in a democracy; what privileges we are still blind to; what sacrifices we have yet to make if we hope to bind up the wounds of others. And, most importantly, what it means to be a church led by Christ in a radical and even a supernatural resistance to the pride, greed, and indifference that touch every person in our culture.
It occurs to me now that Facebook and Twitter do not encourage humility or action. This week I will not be monitoring feeds for the answer, but praying through the Beatitudes and meeting with those in my community who can connect me with the poor and the oppressed. This week, may we all find peace and discomfort in the words of Jesus Christ.