Chapter 20: On Justice (and Jesus)

 

Here’s the thing about a Good life with a capital ‘g’— our thankfulness is not enough.  Acknowledging our blessings is only half of the call, and our praise without our action is just blue-balling God.

I’ve purposely left Jesus out of much of the story up until now because mostly, Jesus was a hero who didn’t belong to me; He belonged to the church.  Worship songs about those pierced hands and feet tasted stale after a couple of decades.

It never made sense that God would reject gay people but not liars, since they’re both mentioned in the Bible.  I lie all the time.  Wouldn’t it have been great if we witnessed His outrageous embrace growing up in the evangelical tradition?

We memorized Scripture so we had little bullets stored in our brains, ready to spew out in college and adulthood whenever we felt our theology threatened.  But what about the Bible as a love letter?  We missed the metaphors and allegories and poetry because we feared God’s love would run out when we questioned or doubted or…changed.

Jesus was a pencil drawing whose defining characteristics had been erased by Systematic Theology textbooks and fearful imperatives about abortion, premarital sex, homosexuality, debt, wealth, race, etc.

The jesus many Millennials (and recovering evangelicals) know is one who cares more about the less significant theological trees than about the forest of grace, mercy, faith, and justice open to the public twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

When I stopped using substances to dull the brightness of a Goodhardgood life, my eagerness to thrive and heal blinded me to the hundreds of millions of others who don’t have the same access to healing as I do.  Many of the posts here on this site focus of my healing, on my experiences, and on my story.

And that is fine, that was a part of the process—lots to extract.  Owning my own story here finally helped me believe in the collective stories we all have to tell.  Before, I didn’t know that part of my purpose was to help others hug their own Goodhardgood stories, too.  I just thought I was making peace with my own.

Sometimes we decide to stop dissolving pills under out tongues, and in that moment a brand new story starts to write itself on our hearts.  My new story felt so safe and right until the itchy, burdensome cloak of anxiety and discontent found me.

One day Jesus asked me to step deeper into the story of Kingdom Come.  Would you hand me that cloak, sweetie?  Would you go out and wreck the world like only a love hulk can?

I bet He’s asking you, too.  Can you feel it in the air?  Old stories are falling off of us like snake skin that’s grown too tight.  You and I?  We are the lovers God commanded to live justly, with compassion and humility.

Thanks God isn’t enough, though it’s the perfect place to start.

Things start to get really fun and terrifying when you ask, How can I help?

Justice is like asking permission to strap God’s glasses onto every human you meet, after you’ve put them on yourself.  Once we’ve all seen through heaven’s eyes in our own sockets, we put our hands and feet and prayers and pocketbooks to use.

Behind the big gray sofa in my living room a giant window keeps me smiling.

All the glories and horrors of our life get ushered back and forth by the breeze.  When a kid chops off a finger, I hear the screams and run out to attend.  When a kid belts out Trolls on the front porch the melodies dance through the opening and I smile.  Spring lilacs tip toe into the house using the same soft gusts that escort the yellow, peppery roses later in the season.

My days are better because of this window.  I’ve written about it before; how this little eden wrecks me with it’s perfection; how David’s help severs my bonds to the dishwasher and stove and laundry baskets, I’m a free woman!  And don’t get me started on the divinity of nap times and negative PET scans.

C.S. Lewis describes the weight of glory, and here—in front of this window—it rests heavy.

Now I know:  if I want the big open window and loving spouse, educated children, and good harvests for me then that means I need to fight for everyone’s access to those glories.  If something feels good and right for me, I need to step beyond thankfulness and plunge headfirst into social justice.  Just like Jesus and Buddha and Mama T did.

What if we trusted that each member of humanity was on our team?  That we all played for the same coach, suited up in the same dressing room, sprinted on the same field, and won identical prizes no matter what?

Jesus tried so hard to get us to see this.  That’s why He washed out feet and broke our bread, no matter what.  We’re all on the same team, you guys.  He rolls his eyes and sips His wine.

Ellen used to say “Hi, I’m Ellen.  Do you know Jesus?” to everyone she met, because she knew that Jesus had their name tattooed on His bicep.  She wanted to make sure the feeling was mutual.

Once, toward the end, a hospice chaplain stopped by for some reason.  He walked into her room and she asked him, “Do you know Jesus?”

“Well, yes.  Look, I’m wearing a cross and carrying a Bible.”

“No.  Do you know Jesus?”

Ellen didn’t care about the trees, the theologies, or the doctrine.  Ellen focused on the forest of Love in which Jesus let us loose.  “Knock yourselves out! Holler when you need me!”

When you start to see God’s love for all humanity, you start to care a little bit more about the healthcare, safety, and sleeping conditions for all humanity.  It hurts to look at the bloated babies who wash onto the Grecian shores.  Watching an unarmed black person getting choked to death by police officers isn’t how I planned on spending my evening.

But that’s where you’ll find Jesus.  Excusing injustice becomes awfully hard when you’re standing so close to Him that you notice the tears streaming down His face.

Yes I want the wind sweeping through my window.  I want the money for massages and the right to love my partner till the day those mossy green eyes close forever.  I just want it for all people now.  And I will resist any theology that tells me I am more deserving of it than anyone else.

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