In a world of chaos and pain, it is all the more necessary to take stock of the ways that God has proven Himself faithful.
Things have been hella crazy over the last few weeks. From the attacks in Paris, Beirut, Nigeria and Mali, to the demonization of Syrian refugees which led to the U.S. House of Representatives passing H.R. 4038 – the so-called “American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act which would grind refugee resettlement to a halt – to the unjust execution of Jamar Clark by the police in North Minneapolis, to the shooting of peaceful protesters demanding #Justice4Jamar, to the ongoing terrorizing of communities of color across the globe by the the west, it has been difficult to see God and believe that there could be a future where war, genocide, and state-sanctioned terror was not the de facto way of being in the world.
Our ambivalence makes sense! When we are so burdened with violence on a daily basis, how can we trust God for a different reality? Those of us who profess faith in Christ have been waiting nearly 2,000 years for His return – believing that upon His arrival, crooked paths will be made straight, empires will fall, oppressors will be subdued, and all that is despicable in the world will either be destroyed or made beautiful again. Yet, the extreme chaos has a tendency to choke out hope, even among the most faithful of us, and lead us to believe that justice isn’t coming, and that we are just better off trying to make whatever little progress we can with our own hands.
Is there any hope for a world riddled with hate, fear and violence? Is there any hope for a people controlled by white supremacist terror and corporate greed?
Yes! I believe there is. In spite of what I see around me, the inner recesses of my soul knows that justice is coming. Salvation is on its way. Things, as they are now, won’t always continue like this. In fact, things haven’t always been like this so whatever has a beginning will have an end. One day, and one day soon (I hope) there will be an end to war, an end to state sanctioned violence, an end to capitalism and other economic systems which prey upon the vulnerable, the weak, and the dispossessed. One day, the world we inhabit will be characterized by peace, love, and an abiding spirit of mutuality.
As we wait for that day, we have a job to do!
First of all, we call the kingdom of God forth. We accept the invitation that Jesus extended to the disciples, but also to the whole body of believers, to pray for His kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
But we must not stop at prayer – this is only our starting pointing. After we have interceded and tarried for a while, we then go out in the world raising the consciousness of those around us that the Kingdom of God is on its way and that systems, hearts, and minds better get right. Essentially, this is what John the Baptist’s ministry comprised of, as recorded in the New Testament gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. He was a first century protester, who called people to repentance and challenged the corruptive, exploitative empire of his day, declaring “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the LORD (John 1.23).’” Similarly to John in the first century, we now in 2015 have a duty, a responsibility, to echo John’s refrain and call the Kingdom of God forth.
If God is King, that means that governments and corporations in this world who think they are running things are not. All which rules through corruption and oppression, and who profit off of the death of black, brown, and indigenous bodies all over the world, get dethroned – they lose all of their power. We set this process in motion every time we declare ‘Black Lives Matter,’ demand that our government welcomes Syrian refugees, elevate the voices of women and girls around the world, force corporations to take climate change seriously and advocate for just, equitable policies that will not have disparate impacts on vulnerable communities.
Secondly, we recognize and lift up the God things among us. No matter how dark it gets, God’s light still shines. No matter how evil and violent it gets, God’s presence still envelopes us all. Contrary to popular theological belief, Satan does not govern the affairs of this world, God does! While he may have enticed Adam and Eve into sin, he did not get dominion over the earth just because they lost an element of theirs.
God is still in control and we see glimpses of that with every sunrise and sunset. We see God in the faces of little children and newborn babies and the smiles of those most close to us as they age. Even in the spaces that have been lost to white supremacist control, God is still present with every court case that works out in the favor of families who have lost a loved one, with every successful refugee resettlement, with every home that shelters, protects, and provides, with every meal that nourishes, and with every table that extends an invitation to a friend, a neighbor, or a complete stranger. God is among us and He is working in and around us every second of every day to bring about that glorious future that we all so desperately long for.
As we wait for the fullness of God’s Kingdom and play an active role in bringing it forth, we must always remember to elevate the God things, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. Every time we lift up God’s name and exalt Him above demonic principalities that manifest themselves in white supremacy and other imperialistic ideologies, our glorious future free of injustice and pain gets a little closer than it is right now.