Who We Are For, or What Are We Against… how do we want to be remembered?

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This past Friday, the House of Representatives voted to repeal/alter the Affordable Care act for the 40th time. While I am not an apologist for Obamacare, my Christian values lead me to be an outspoken supporter for the poor and oppressed, which means that I desperately want to see Obamacare implemented. Do I think it is the best plan? Absolutely not. But is it better than the “no alternative” option that’s been presented time and time again? Yes.

I get that my taxes will go up, but to be honest, I really don’t care. I want to see all people who are impoverished have access to the resources which make “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” actually possible… and I’m willing to render a little more money to Cesar to make that a reality.

Being willing to part with a little extra money so that others might live, seems rather Jesus-like to me.

For those who espouse the radical Kingdom values of Jesus which give the highest priority to the weakest members of society, we should celebrate anytime the cause of the vulnerable is taken up. In fact, we should be leading the charge.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. While Fundamentalism and American Evangelicalism is approaching her deathbed and is in the process of being replaced by a generation of Jesus followers who are passionate about the cause of justice; those powerful in the movement of the previous generation are still being found as obstructionists, instead of culture-changers. They’re still known as the people who are against something instead of the people who are for something.

Sadly, they’re often doing it in the name of Jesus. (and we wonder why so many people are leaving the church?)

Such is the case with the Family Research Council as led by Tony Perkins. The Family Research Council falsely markets themselves as a “Christian” organization even though they continually stand opposed to the teachings of Jesus. In fact, they’re actually a certified hate group. This past week, instead of using his platform to carry forward the message of Jesus, Perkins instead chose to use his influence to help defund the Affordable Healthcare Act.

As seen on his Twitter:

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Perhaps what is even more concerning than a “family” organization or a “Christian” organization fighting to strip money from a program intended to ensure poor people have access to affordable healthcare, is the preceding tweet Mr. Perkins posted:

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Because nothing says “that was a great worship service” as much as defunding healthcare, right?

While I’m not an expert on chapel services, I think it’s a safe bet that if you go to worship the God who says “I want justice flowing like a river” and the God who says “encourage the oppressed”, and can immediately turn your efforts toward defunding a program aimed at helping the poor… you’re missing something.

Which, begs the question– what do we want to be remembered for?

The previous generation of American Christians will be remembered for what they were against. Instead of a movement that that was focused on the Kingdom values taught in scripture, it was a movement aimed at “taking back” American culture.

Not exactly the meek Jesus describes in the sermon on the mount.

It was a movement against abortion and against gay marriage… and for? Who knows. They let the movement become defined by what they were against.

We however, have an opportunity to build something different… a movement that looks a lot more like Jesus. Our movement will undoubtedly still fall short, but if we’re smart, we’ll fall short in different ways.

In the meantime, we must build a Jesus movement that is different.

One that’s defined by how big it loves, instead of being defined by fighting a common enemy.

We have the chance to build a movement that, instead of pushing people to the margins, pulls people in… embraces them, and invites them to experience a loving Jesus.

Instead of being remembered for what we were against, we have the chance to be remembered for who we were for.

I want this movement. I believe we can build it, together.

I hope you’ll join me in this movement, and that together, we’ll be remembered by who we were for, instead of what we were against.

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About Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey, is an Anabaptist author, speaker, and blogger. His first book, Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus (Release date, August 2014), tells the story of his journey out of lifeless religion and into a fresh expression of Christianity. He is also a contributor for Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, Evangelicals for Social Action, Mennonite World Review, has been a guest on Huffington Post Live, and is one of the CANA Initiators. Ben is also a syndicated author for MennoNerds, a collective of Mennonite and Anabaptist writers. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Theology & Missiology), is currently a Doctor of Missiology/Intercultural Studies student at Fuller Seminary, and is a member of the Phi Alpha Chi Honors Society for biblical scholars. Ben lives in Auburn, Maine with his wife Tracy and his daughter Johanna.

You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

  • http://www.wideopenground.com Lana

    YES YES. It’s hard on me because I do not live in the USA, so when I visit, I have no heathcare. Sadly I don’t know if Obama care will help me because I am not going to purchase a year of health care for a one month visit. But maybe it will. We’ll see.

  • http://theoddduckout-natalie.blogspot.com/ Natalie ._c-

    I truly admire your willingness to follow what your religion really says, a rarity among Christians ever since they came to power in Roman days. I agree that Obamacare is not the best that could have been done, but I don’t blame the president or the Democrats for it. The blame must be placed squarely on the Republicans, who are also the most likely to flaunt their “Christian” values. If that’s Christianity, I want no part of it!

  • Linda

    I left the church long ago. I think if there had been more people like you in it, I wouldn’t have had to.

    Thanks for reminding me what ‘Christian’ means.

  • Pingback: Disgraced Chaplain Claims On-Camera That Martin Luther King Endorsed Discrimination of Gays

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com Benjamin L. Corey

    I’m humbled, Linda. So glad you found the blog.

  • gimpi1

    I have to agree with Linda. I haven’t left your church, since I’ve never been a part of it. But a large part of WHY I have never been a part of it is the right-wing drumbeat that seems to have been it’s central feature for the last 3o years or so. I have had many conservative Christians tell me that taxing them to pay for food or medical care is theft, while taxing me to pay for wars and weapons programs I don’t support is necessary and reasonable. I have had conservative Christians tell me that my badly-disabled parents should have been totally cared for by their families (not possible) or left to die. And, after making that statement, they have been amazed that I have been less than enthusiastic about their witness.

    Perhaps the new American Christianity that you hope to develop will present a more loving face to us outsiders.

  • James

    You’re begging the question, that Obamacare will actually improve the plight of the poor. While I am certainly wealthy by the rest of the world’s standards, I am a poor American citizen – looking for work that will probably pay me $10/hr., no savings, and finding it harder and harder to pay the bills. Thanks to Obamacare, I am now also newly uninsured, as my already wallet-depleting premiums were set to increase by about 40% once 2014 rolls around. So now I get to look forward to that penalty for being uninsured, but what choice do I have? I prefer the old far-from-perfect system that actually paid 80% of my surgery bill on a catastrophic plan (one I can no longer afford), and that canceled my girlfriend’s surgery bill because of her low income.

    Anecdotal evidence? Certainly. I don’t know enough about the healthcare system, and I certainly don’t have time to read the monstrosity of the bill that is Obamacare. But don’t assume that opposition to it is antithetical to concern for the poor. It is precisely my concern for the poor that causes me to oppose it, as I believe the poor will be worse off – in spite of its merciful intentions. In fact, most people I know who oppose it do so partly because of the contraception mandate, but also partly because we believe it will negatively impact the poor.

    I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God, period. I don’t wave the flag for American Christianity, I don’t say the pledge of allegiance, and I gag when I hear people say we need to take back this country for Jesus. Maybe they have been “against” things, but it is motivated by a concern “for” things – life, the poor, culture, etc. Have they been wrong in certain things? Of course. Haven’t we all? But I certainly don’t think it’s contradictory to worship God AND be against Obamacare, if the evidence leads you to believe it will hurt the poor more.

    I said it in a comment on another post, but I wish people like yourself would recognize that conservatives are not the hate-mongering bigots you think we are, and that we actually all want many of the same things. The difference is that we believe in different ways of achieving them. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and being a Jesus-follower means nothing if your good intentions actually make things worse.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com Benjamin L. Corey

    When have I ever said that I think conservatives are hate-mongering bigots? That’s a silly accusation, because I have never said anything like that, nor do I think it.


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