I have been struggling in a real way recently. I think of scriptures such as Micah 6:6-8,
6 With what should I approach the Lord
and bow down before God on high?
Should I come before him with entirely burned offerings,
with year-old calves?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with many torrents of oil?
Should I give my oldest child for my crime;
the fruit of my body for the sin of my spirit?
8 He has told you, human one, what is good and
what the Lord requires from you:
to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.
With the addition of scriptures such as Matthew 25:34-40,
34 “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. 35 I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. 36 I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’
37 “Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’
With the addition of a great commandment that is not and never has been an option from Mark 12:28-31,
28 One of the legal experts heard their dispute and saw how well Jesus answered them. He came over and asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”
29 Jesus replied, “The most important one is Israel, listen! Our God is the one Lord, 30 and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind, and with all your strength. 31 The second is this, You will love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”
And then, my heart aches. Why does it ache? It aches because all that has dominated my computer screen, my television screen, and my social media feed matches, in no way, the actions we are called to live as God’s children – notice I wrote God’s children, not us, them, or they. My heart aches because we live in a world where we neglect brothers and sisters – yes, brothers and sisters (because if we are Children of God, I believe God created all, then as we are made in the image of God, all persons are my brothers and sisters.) We create divides as vast as the oceans that separate the lands, and canyons that have carved away one place from another. Divides that only splinter humanity into even greater disunity, leading to something that has really just opened my eyes to the disparity, and the systemic divide between classes of people that is ever present in all of our communities.
For several weeks I have been hearing and reading just a bit about the water massacre (yes, massacre because we cannot even begin to understand the years of affects this will have on children and entire communities) that has overcome Flint, Michigan. I didn’t think much about it, until I saw pictures and video of the water coming out of faucets in hospitals, nursing homes, and every day sources of water. But last night, as I lay awake watching late-night television (something I rarely do), The Late Show with Stephen Colbert welcomed the legal environmental crusader Erin Brockovich. Now, to be honest, this name only rang with me because of the movie staring Julia Roberts. However, Brockovich’s sincere demeanor and intellectual understanding of what was happening Flint really put into perspective for me how screwed up this really is. I invite you to listen to the short, but informative interview:
And what are we to do as the body of Christ? Yes, there is something politically, systemically, and a true cover-up that should really infuriate us all that there are people in the United States of America that are drinking water that many of us would not even run into our dog’s water bowl.
And, yet, this issue will only divide persons instead of uniting. It will divide on who will receive fresh water first; let me rephrase that: who deserves fresh water first, because we do need a pecking order (that’s sarcasm, of course). The uniting should come in demanding answers as to how this is even possible. But even more, how we are all responsible in response to scripture:
-Those that made decisions to use cheaper water purification methods, only making waters for toxic – how about a little bit of humble-pie in owning up to a mistake and making it right.
-Those of us that want to point fingers, let’s take responsibility as well, because as a body united in humanity, we are all called to serve the least of these … essentially: everyone!
-And maybe one day, and one day soon, our hearts will no longer ache, but rejoice in that we are truly living the great commandment that is all we have been asked to do (no if’s, and’s, or but’s) – love.
As a pastor, it is a part of my call to stand firm on a foundation of Christ, as a humble servant for Christ, as a limb of the Body of Christ … to walk humbly with our God, to fight for all of God’s children, and to love generously – even when we screw up.
What can we do to help in Flint and in the many other places that will soon arise? I will work diligently to find out and we will do something together.
Grace & Peace,