I’m reading Outlaw Christian by Jacqueline Bussie, and it is life-giving and authentic. Nothing sugar-coated or cliché. I love that, as so much of westernized Christianity is chock full of cliché, and small god mindedness.
Right now, during this political season, there is so much gloom and doom on billboard sized display by christians in America. That is so disconcerting in and of itself because Christianity should be anything but gloom and doom. What a terrible example to all of our ‘neighbors’ whom we are called to love.
Soren Kierkegaard, the Christian philosopher, defined hope as the passionate pursuit of the possible. Meaning, hope is more than believing, it’s doing. We can’t sit around bemoaning we need God back in our country, our schools, our government, etc. If that’s your mindset you need to get a grip, as God never left. Maybe you need to come to terms with the realization if you’re in ‘gloom and doom’ mode, it’s a you problem, not a God problem. As Jacqueline says, hope is a lifestyle of embracing and giving life in a world of death-dealing. Or as Isaiah dishes it, “Do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” (1:17) Or in today’s vernacular, what does it say to a someone in need when you tell him God loves him, yet deny him services to lift him up. Hope is more than believing, it’s doing. What does it say to a bank employee who loses their job and pension because of a sub-prime mortgage scandal right after the CEO receives millions in bonus’? No one will listen to us regarding hope if we do not speak and act authentically to despair and calamity.
“When we say God is just, we also need to confess that a U.S. CEO’s salary is 373 times the salary of his own average worker and 264 times as much as public school teachers; 1.2 billion people in the world are without access to sanitation; the world’s richest 500 individuals have a combines income of more than that of the poorest 416 million, and 1/5th of humanity spends $4 a day on a cappuccino while another one-fifth lives on less than $1 day. And if we say “God is love,” or “God is in control,” we need also to confess the 10.7 million children a year across the globe do not live to see their 5th birthday, more than 1 billion people live in abject poverty, and more than 1.5 million people in Haiti were left homeless by the 2010 earth quake. **Outlaw Christians lament aloud that the world’s heartache is exponential.
These facts depress us, I know. But the key to an authentic life and faith is not to hide from personal or global hope-corroding facts but instead to lament them, protest them, despise the crud out of them, talk to each other and God about them, and resist them DAILY in a hundred small ways through our vocations and our actions.” (Bussie)
Hope is hard, and it becomes a fallacy when the realities that make hope an utter necessity are ignored. Real hope requires we get down and dirty. Often, Christian talk of hope is so shallow and sugar-coated by ignoring the horror in the world. Hope without action is nothing. God wants us as his PR agent, as Jacqueline puts it. We need to enter into each others suffering and grief, and be witness to how they did not give up in despair on their journey. We can learn so much, from those who have gone through so much, by walking beside them, listening, and learning without resorting to old tired clichés.
Be the hope you wish to see in the world. In time, your hope will give birth to others.
“The message of the cross is that hope is incarnate — meaning right here and now, inside us and among us.” We don’t need a politician to usher it in. That said, no politician can usher it out either.