I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.Rosa Parks
Have you ever noticed how many different ways Jesus walked directly into the world’s struggles?
Contrary to what seems to have become a pop Christian cultural belief, the Christ spent his earthly life not on so-called spiritual matters, but elbow-deep in the many diverse and divisive issues facing the people he came to save. In this life. On this side of eternity.
If you think back, Jesus inherited this sense of communal urgency from the key woman in his life: his mother. Though she must have been afraid – an unwed, teenage mother, using an unthinkable defense – she nevertheless spoke fearlessly not only of her own vindication, but also of God’s mighty actions for God’s children in this world. As has always been the case with God’s greatest moments and prophets, everything began with a woman(en).
So, Jesus grows up with this audacious and vocal mother, who raises him within the ancient tradition to know the prophets’ values. The same ones that God has always held to. Is it really any surprise that Jesus then uses his ministry to dispense mercy and justice every chance he gets?
- He feeds the hungry.
- He brings good news to the poor and lifts those he can out of poverty.
- He releases those he can from captivity.
- He heals the blind and the sick.
- He fights for the oppressed – not just the spiritually oppressed, the literally oppressed.
- He welcomes the outcast and the sinner.
- He raises the dead and touches them.
- He teaches women and puts them in leadership.
- He overcomes xenophobia.
- He tells us to put our focus on children and the helpless, not the mighty.
- He takes on the seat of power in their own house with a whip and flips their tables.
Though Jesus may have chosen to die in order to take the gravity of our sin for us, he also allowed us to take him down to show us the very worst of what we can be. As Barbara Brown Taylor has said, “Jesus was not killed by atheism and anarchy. He was brought down by law and order allied with religion – which is always a dangerous mix.”
We are still very capable of hurting one another in this and so many other ways. Ways that we have been doing since he was alive. Though the outcomes may have changed slightly, the heart of the matter has remained the same. Because hunger, poverty, sickness, oppression, outcasting, misogyny, racism, subjugation, and tyranny all still exist.
Which is why Rosa Parks’s words ring true now as much as ever. There are still so many fights worth fighting. So many ways that we can enter the fray. Ways that Jesus himself would do so.
If you’re unsure where to begin, you can always start with the one closest to home for you personally. Or perhaps with the one that sets your soul on fire. Just remember, anytime someone is getting hurt, they are not being loved as God wants, as Jesus lived and died for. And we, the followers of Christ, can do something about that – perhaps not without fear, but certainly setting it aside.