If there were as many Christians in this world as there are people who call themselves Christian, it would be a different world, indeed. But the world is filled with rich men trying to drag their affluence through the eyes of needles, and innocent children dying of starvation by the thousands each and every day.
The newest Christianist toy is the idea that you can erase any responsibility for the daily preventable deaths of thousands of children by doing them the great favor of not teaching them to be reliant on handouts. It must fill their collective tummies with warmth and joy to know that they have been saved from expecting someone to feed them.
There is the so-called pro-life bunch who are really not in favor of life at all. Anti-education, anti-safety net, anti-anybody who is not white, straight, and male. If they really wanted to reduce the number of abortions they would fully fund Planned Parenthood and require comprehensive sex education. And don't bother with statistics that show lower abortion rates in places where reproductive health care is readily available.
Let's not forget the I'm-not-homophobic homophobes who lay claim to love for all human beings, but intentionally take every opportunity to relegate anyone whose sexual orientation or gender identity doesn't fit into the fabricated binary to the status of second-class citizens.
Then there are those of us who are so tired of watching our sisters and brothers living lives of oppression, struggling to get through the day, and staving off the hour-by-hour impulse to just put an end to our own lives as the only imaginable end to the pain. Many of us lose that struggle every day.
I have a frightening and unsavory anger in my soul. People climbing up on self-manufactured, imaginary pedestals and speaking to laziness, and perversion, and things detestable to the Creator, as if they know anything about the words that come out of their mouths or are typed on their computer keyboards.
I do not have the ability to process these hateful, harmful facts of life without experiencing anger along with the pain. If I were left to my own devices, the anger would explode in ways that would do more harm than good. This is why I pray.
In Matthew 25, Jesus talks about the coming of the next realm. He gathers the people (all of them) and separates them as a shepherd would separate the sheep from the goats, putting the sheep on the right and the goats on the left.
Then Jesus turns to the right and tells them to come inherit the kingdom that has been prepared for them from the foundation of the earth. For I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you cared for me. I was imprisoned and you visited me.
Then the people to whom Jesus is speaking say that they have not done those things for him, Jesus responds by saying that whatever they have done for the least of these, they have done for him.
Then Jesus turns to the left.
I believe that Jesus meant all these things. There is no discussion about race, or ethnicity, or religious beliefs. No comments about sexual orientation or gender identity. Just some really truthful words about how we treat each other.
These are Jesus' own words about how you get into heaven, and how you don't. I tend to take this passage in the Bible really seriously.
I believe that Jesus meant all these things in a physical sense. We should literally feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, care for the sick. But I also believe that Jesus meant all these things in a spiritual sense, as well.
Feed the spiritually hungry, give drink to the spiritually thirsty, clothe the spiritually naked, welcome the spiritual stranger, care for the spiritually sick, and visit the spiritually imprisoned. From this understanding, comes the realization that no one needs my love and my prayers more than those who persecute me.
It is the secret of life. It is the how-to instructions for love your enemy. It is the means by which it is possible for me to take the anger that comes from the actions of those who have no respect for human dignity, and turn it into compassion. I forgive you.
But forgiveness is not the same as silence in the face of oppression. It just means that I am not going to let you poison my heart. It means that, with God's help, I can try to see that the oppressors are also children of God. It also means that, with God's help, I can devote myself to lifting up those who are oppressed.
So there it is. I don't claim to have the answers for anyone else but me. I don't have my own answers most of the time. But I do know that I need God's help to make it through this world and do my best to rise above my human weaknesses.
Being transgender is not one of those weaknesses. Being gay is not a weakness. Neither is being poor. Neither is being female. Neither is not being Caucasian. If there were as many Christians in this world as there are people who call themselves Christian, it would be a different world, indeed.
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