Reclaiming Jesus

Justice: Week 2

Reclaiming Jesus
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Earlier this year, I collaborated with a group of Christian leaders in the United States to write a statement to our churches, “Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis.” [1] I invite you to meditate on three of our affirmations:

The church’s role is to change the world through the life and love of Jesus Christ. The government’s role is to serve the common good by protecting justice and peace, rewarding good behavior while restraining bad behavior (Romans 13). When that role is undermined by political leadership, faith leaders must stand up and speak out. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.” [2]

I. WE BELIEVE each human being is made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). That image and likeness confers a divinely decreed dignity, worth, and God-given equality to all of us as children of the one God who is the Creator of all things. Racial bigotry is a brutal denial of the image of God (the imago dei) in some of the children of God. Our participation in the global community of Christ absolutely prevents any toleration of racial bigotry. Racial justice and healing are biblical and theological issues for us, and are central to the mission of the body of Christ in the world. We give thanks for the prophetic role of the historic black churches in America when they have called for a more faithful gospel.

II. WE BELIEVE we are one body. In Christ, there is to be no oppression based on race, gender, identity, or class (Galatians 3:28). [I would add sexual orientation as well.] The body of Christ, where those great human divisions are to be overcome, is meant to be an example for the rest of society. When we fail to overcome these oppressive obstacles, and even perpetuate them, we have failed in our vocation to the world—to proclaim and live the reconciling gospel of Christ.

III. WE BELIEVE how we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner is how we treat Christ himself. “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). God calls us to protect and seek justice for those who are poor and vulnerable, and our treatment of people who are “oppressed,” “strangers,” “outsiders,” or otherwise considered “marginal” is a test of our relationship to God, who made us all equal in divine dignity and love. Our proclamation of the lordship of Jesus Christ is at stake in our solidarity with the most vulnerable. If our gospel is not “good news to the poor,” it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ (Luke 4:18).

References:
[1] See http://reclaimingjesus.org/.

[2] Martin Luther King, Jr., “A Knock at Midnight,” Strength to Love (Fortress Press: 2010, ©1963), 59.

Image credit: Full side view of adobe house with water in foreground, “Acoma Pueblo, National Historic Landmark, New Mexico,” (detail); from the series Ansel Adams Photographs of National Parks and Monuments, compiled 1941-1942, documenting the period ca. 1933-1942.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image:
The Catholic “Doctrine of Discovery” sent Spanish Conquistadors in search of gold, beginning in the sixteenth century. As the area was colonized, many indigenous peoples were massacred, enslaved, or forced to assimilate. Colonial governor Juan de Oñate (1550-1626) had one foot cut off of each man in Acoma Pueblo after they rebelled against Spanish domination. By the late eighteenth century, approximately one third of New Mexico’s native population was enslaved. —Richard Rohr

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