What, Who, How & When Are You For? (Because Being Against Isn’t Enough)

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about the word “for.”

Because, while it’s important to take stands against things like lies and injustice and hypocrisy and abuse, it’s not enough to be against evil.  It’s crucial to go further, and be for good. 

I like the word “for.”  It’s versatile word (conjunction, preposition and prefix) that appears in some of my favorite verses.

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”

For God so loved the world…”

 

“For” means that God wants what’s best for us.  God champions us.  God acts on our behalf out of an abundance of  love.

In some theological circles, God is portrayed as a punitive deity who is easily angered, who hates lots of people and behaviors, who is sitting in wait for people to punish.  That God is often against, but rarely for, anything (or anyone.)

But in sacred stories and passages, what we learn about God is that God is for us.  God delights in us.  God waits for us to come to the end of ourselves, and welcomes us with open arms when we turn toward home.  God loves us in ways we can’t comprehend.  God’s love is more abundant than the galaxy.  God’s love is more tenacious than anything — even death.

In reality, God doesn’t spend a lot of energy being against; God goes hard after what God is for: mercy, forgiveness, love….us.

When we think of ourselves as citizens of the world, it is important to know what we’re against and take a stand for that.  But also, it’s crucial for us to know what we’re for, and to spend our time, emotion, energy and passion pursuing that.

If we use Jesus’ teachings to answer What, Who, How and When, we’ll be able to see how we can champion good in our world. 

What are we supposed to be for?  Mercy.  Forgiveness.  Love.  Gentleness. Patience. Goodness. Joy.  Kindness.  Peace.  Truth.

Who are we supposed to be for?  Our neighbors.  Widows.  Orphans.  Refugees.  People who are suffering physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially and relationally.

How are we supposed to be for them?  By putting them first and ourselves last.  By loving them as much as Jesus loves us.  By surrendering our privilege and power and rights to further theirs.  By going out of our way to love our friends, neighbors and enemies well.

When are we supposed to be for the values and people God loves?  Always.  There’s never a time when we get to hit “pause” on Jesus’ values to pursue our own.  There’s never a time when we’re supposed to prize our own well-being over that of other citizens of our world.  There’s never a time when we get a pass on doing the hard, sacrificial work of loving the way God loves.

 

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  • Ivan T. Errible

    So why are the “Progressive” churches/organizations so overwhelmingly White/ middle class?
    So ridiculous…..

  • jekylldoc

    The black UCC members I know don’t seem to feel overwhelmed. And there are lots of Latino Progressive Catholics. Class? Consider the role of education.

  • jekylldoc

    I really like your approach to naming things (and people) we are for. I usually start with Shalom, the Kingdom. And it’s there among the things you named: Peace. I’m also big on Perspective (which is not necessarily the same thing as moderation.) You have it as Truth. I might add Justice, but of course that is also part of Peace. Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, right?

  • Ivan T. Errible

    Oh, OK-so that’s alright, then. So if anyone asks anyone “Why do you have almost no/no Black friends?”, that person can say “My friends don’t seem to feel overwhelmed by my all-white friend circle, so go away!”
    Very glad you’ve found a way to give yourselves a pass on a subject on which you’re very eager to judge others. Nothing like practicing what you preach, is there?

  • jekylldoc

    Ivan, if you weren’t so busy trolling all the time I would make an effort to take this seriously. Most of us Progressives do give it some thought, because what you are observing has some truth to it. But coming from you? Have a nice day.