When I left home to come to Wilshire, I was upset my home church — and the church at large — had refused to use her prophetic voice. We had decided that what needed to be said was too political, so stay out of it and just stick to the gospel. We failed to see that what needed to be said was itself the gospel truth.
Politics is absolutely important to the life of a church and community. Not partisan politics, though; partisan politics is demonic. Politics is a gospel issue. Jesus’s life was a counter-narrative to Caesar. Our faith is for the world — not from it. What do we do when people are dying in the streets, and we know words from our leaders are encouraging the violence? We speak truth to power. That is what we are called to do.
I have no answers for the time we are living in. I have no idea what the best way is to handle and care for our border, what to do about guns, how to prevent the sexual abuse that is not being taken care of by the church or how to fix our political system. Here is what I do know: we are to tell the truth. We are to meet whatever we face with compassion and not fear.
If we deny white supremacy now, when it is plain as day in full sight, I agree with Pastor Jonathan Martin that we are blaspheming the Holy Spirit. We have to stop allowing people in positions of power to blame everything else but white supremacy.
Rachel Held Evans had a sticky note on her wall to see every time she wrote. It said: “Tell the Truth.” We are living in a world trying to say the truth doesn’t matter. And we are afraid to get in the ring because we have thought being nice equals kindness. No, sometimes niceness is the darkness used by the principalities and powers of this world to silence those who dare challenge what is unjust.
I know this is all terribly upsetting. But my hope is in the power of the Holy Spirit to make things right in the chaos. I know it feels like we are living in an alternate universe. This isn’t the world I thought we lived in, but people of color are telling me this has always been America. Now that I have done a lot of listening, I see that: yes, it is.
My husband, Jake, is Native American. I have been leaning into what that means. His grandmother was raised in a Catholic orphanage, and other than that, we know little about his family. She is of the Potawatomi and Kickapoo tribes. I am realizing she has suffered great trauma at the hands of this American dream.
We also have been talking to our kids about their native heritage. It has affected Blake so much that when his school talked about the early colonizing of Native Americans, Blake had to be escorted out of the room because he was so upset. The teachers thought our blond-headed boy was making it up; Jake showed them his card.
In light of what I have learned, I struggle with our Fourth of July celebrations. I couldn’t stand for the flag this year. Let me tell you why. We are claiming to be the land of the free without admitting our sins in the creation of this free nation. We haven’t been free for everyone, and we still aren’t. We are also putting our honor of the flag over people. This is dangerous idolatry.
If we want to turn this narrative around, it starts with the people of faith. We have a better story to tell, and we absolutely have to tell the truth. Again, I agree with Pastor Jonathan Martin who said if we do not speak what is true now, then we can’t blame the Devil when our young people leave the church. They know when we are compromising our voice.
I know the danger of becoming the thing we are fighting against. Every morning I reflect on how we don’t go down that path. The story of Israel in the Bible shows us this error time and time again. But we also cannot let fear hold us back. This is why we are in community. We are surrounded by diverse voices to help us stay the course. Remember, we are not in a battle against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities.