During a virtual interfaith gathering many months ago, amid discussions of world events, someone wrote a message in the chat, then left the group. They had attended several sessions, they said, but would not continue because they had expected to learn what Christianity said about racism.
Several of us were surprised to realize that the person sought a verdict from the group, as if we were a council of judges providing a definitive decision. Within minutes, I felt myself pulled into the cavern of Christianity, centuries echoing, voices clamoring around me. Because to answer a question like that is like answering the question of what Islam says about terrorism, or Buddhism says about military rule, or Judaism says about occupied settlements.
At their core, most religions espouse a love for humanity. And we could sit all day pondering and philosophizing what this means in the Absolute, how our doctrines describe it, and the ways it “should” look in the real world.
Yet, the truth is, we live our lives, moment by moment, day by day. How we behave and engage with others reveals more about our spiritual practice than the tenets we say we follow or the creeds we recite in public, no matter our faith tradition.
Recently, the Southern Baptist Convention expelled churches in Louisville, Kentucky and Kennesaw, Georgia because they decided to live the Gospel by welcoming and including LGBTQIA congregants. They chose to live the teaching (Mark 12:30-31) which says that we shall love God, ourselves, and our neighbors, all of them. The United Methodist General Conference is in limbo about this same issue.
How we live our faith speaks volumes. Because what we say and how we ultimately choose to act are a quagmire we can sink into if we do not walk our talk. James (2:17) reminds us that faith without works is dead. His elder brother, Jesus, a brown-skinned Jew his entire life, gathered in all kinds of places with all kinds of people: the poor, sick, enslaved, downtrodden, lepers, thieves, prostitutes, heathens, Phoenicians, Samaritans, women, and children. A motley crew of souls who would not now be allowed into the closed door, gated, country club society which some still guard with guns, who would not be allowed to vote without performing extreme calisthenics, who would not qualify for a mortgage or scholarship without acquiescing to usurious interest rates.
We can ask what is said about any religion’s tenets for the rest of our lives. Though, perhaps that is not the question.
Instead, let us ask: How are we living our faith? How are we willing to show up? How well are we loving those neighbors who do not look like us, think like us, believe like us, or vote like us?
In this season of new life and renewed hope, of passing over and rising up, what say you?
© 2021 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks – All rights reserved.