Pray to Jesus. Yes, but?

October 23, 2016

Someone I know posted some sad, dark words on Facebook. Someone else I know responded by telling them to “Pray, Jesus can save you.”

That is a true statement. Prayer is important and Jesus does save. However, as someone who has called out to Jesus plenty of times in my life, I wonder when, exactly, is Jesus going to show up? When will I be saved? I wonder how hard, exactly, do I have to pray?

The difficulty with these statements- as sincere as they are- is they put the burden of action on the suffering person. YOU call out to Jesus. YOU pray.

Do you think they haven’t?

Do you think they aren’t praying?

Or maybe life is so tough right now they can’t pray.

I know when we say things like this, we want to be helpful. We are sincere. We do care. But I would like to suggest another response.

It might be more helpful to say, “I am praying for you right now and I will continue to pray for you daily”.

It might be more helpful to be Jesus and actually show up. Call, text, knock on the door. Mostly Jesus saves people through other people. Instead of giving a burdened person more to do (or more to feel badly about not being able to do) perhaps we should give ourselves something to do. Be the answer to their prayer. Be Jesus’ presence to them.

In my experience, Jesus shows up when we show up.


October 2, 2016

In case you hadn’t noticed, this is an election year. That means we ought to spend some time thinking about voting; what it means and how we make decisions about candidates and issues.

There are a lot of things we could talk about, what do do when neither candidate is a good fit with what you believe, (fyi, get used to that, no candidate is ever a perfect fit), where to find accurate information about positions, does voting even matter.

But that’s not what this post is about. I want to consider who we vote for. I don’t mean which candidate we vote for. I mean who in our nation we vote for. Who is our primary concern as voters?

For years we have been encouraged to vote for our values. We have been asked “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” Candidates assure us they are “fighting for you”. Most of us view voting as an action mostly concerned with our personal well being. Will candidate X be good for me?

As a Christian I think the question should be “Will candidate X be good for others?” By others I mean the marginalized of society. How will the poor, the ill, the disabled, the unemployed, the immigrant, the prisoner fare with this candidate.

My vote should not be about me. My vote should be for others. As a Christian, “what’s in it for me?” is not a question I ought to be asking.

I think about food insecure college students I know. I think about the LGBTQA+ community. I think about young black men. I think about the mentally and physically ill.

Do I know what is best for all these groups? Of course not. But I do know some things that are good for them. Safety, decent housing, adequate food, equal opportunity. So I ask myself, which candidate will work for these things?

One of the grand themes of the Bible is God’s concern for the poor, the widowed and the orphaned. Those, in ancient times, were the oppressed and suffering groups. From Cain’s rhetorical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”,  to when Abram was blessed to be a blessing, to  Torah,  to the prophets, to Jesus, to Paul and John and the faithful since then, we are to be  our brother’s keeper, a blessing, concerned for the poor, suffering, and marginalized.

One of the ways we do this as people living in the United States is by how we vote. Not my values, not my self interest. God’s values and God’s interest.

Before you step into the voting booth this November, from the top of the ticket to the bottom, think about what you vote means. Who’s interests, who’s well being, who’s future are you voting for?

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