This guest post is by Sheri Faye Rosendahl.
I have been told that I can come off too harsh in my outspoken opposition to the American white Jesus and my vocal advocacy for Loving others first. On the one hand, I haven’t been dropping f-bombs, so I think I’m doing pretty okay with my temperament. On the other hand, yeah, I can get a bit fiery.
I know you miss seeing pictures of puppies flooding your newsfeed, but maybe those “political” posts advocating for basic human rights and Loving others could take precedence over the desire to “feel good” again in the bubble of the West. More than ever in Facebook history, people are speaking up against oppression and taking bolder action to Love. This is deeply needed in our hurting world.
Many of us are fed up with hate and are finding unity under a deep desire to see Love win. I’m sorry (not really) if that feels uncomfortable, but unless it doesn’t align with the ways of Jesus, what is the real issue?
Jesus was controversial; he had a tendency to make people uncomfortable. He called his followers to a counter-cultural way of life that threatened the comforts of the religious too. He told people to give all their money to the poor, leave their jobs on the spot to follow him, Love their enemy, let go of their pride, and stop being so fearful. Jesus doesn’t care about our shallow comforts; he cares about our willingness to give it all up for self-sacrificial Love.
So, what is the motive for speaking out and what is the motive for staying silent? If our motive is safety it is not sacrificial Love. If our motive is comfort, it is not sacrificial Love. If our motive is fear, it is most definitely not sacrificial Love. If our motive is to Love others despite any criticism or cost it may just truly align with Jesus’ way of bold, sacrificial Love.
Jesus once said: “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” I am going to ask you to do something that is probably going to be difficult, especially if you are American.
I want you to imagine your home, to actually picture it. You are sitting on the porch or patio, it’s a nice spring day and your kids are playing in the yard with their neighbor friends. As you enjoy your favorite craft beer, green smoothie, or whatever trendy beverage you drink, you notice an odd humming in the air. It progressively gets louder and you feel curious, but not alarmed. You look up and see some odd looking, kind of eerie, white planes in the distant sky. “Strange,” you think. You know where I’m going…
In an instant your world stops. There is no sound but a ringing in your ears. As you look around, everything moves in slow-motion and your street surreally appears to have transformed into a post-apocalyptic horror film. Disoriented, you look for your young children and spot them on the road, staring down at a red pool. As you run over, the closer you get, the more you can make out the figure in the red pool on ground: the neighbor boy, his leg severed, blood everywhere, but still conscious.
He holds his small arm out, you see deadening fear in his eyes as you run over to grab him, try to do anything you can, but what can you really do? You pick him up, blood pouring everywhere as your own children stand in shock, watching their friend helplessly bleed out. You look for a safe place to turn, someone to help you, but your world is vacant, there is no one, and his small tender body goes limp in your hands.
This is only the beginning. This scene becomes your norm, there is nothing to do but flee everything you have ever known. But even then, there is no place for you, no one to give your innocent children, whom you love more than life, who have lost any hope of a childhood, a chance at safety. There are many who have the means to help, but they choose to withhold their hand. There is nothing but darkness as far as you can see.
Tell me now, does the “Golden Rule” apply? Is it not the simplest form of humanity to hold out your hand? Would you not hope to hell someone would do so for you, for your children?
There are times we can look back on history and see in black and white a right side and a wrong side (the Holocaust, the Civil Rights movement, Executive Order 9066, etc.). We see those who spoke out against oppression and those who were oppressive. Then we see those who stood in silence, maybe to avoid offending anyone. I wonder what side of history we would place them on?
Unless you are a raging racist (and I am sure you are not), there is no way any of us would look back on the Holocaust and justify our nation refusing refuge. We think, “What the hell America, you messed up incomprehensibly.” Well, almost incomprehensibly, because here we are, pretending it is reasonable and even rational to refuse refuge to those facing genocide. Or at the very least, standing silent, annoyed with the vocal opposition which takes over the fluff pieces on our Facebook walls.
The next time you are upset with how outspoken and fiery some of us may be, take a second look at the red letters. What is our the motivation? Let us not overlook justice, mercy, and faithfulness, but let us choose the path of bold sacrificial Love regardless of the “comforts” we may forfeit.
What we are seeing is the beginning of a revolution, one based on Love. A movement that pops our western bubble of comforts and opens our eyes to a truer purpose. A unifying revolution of those who place more value on the red letters of Jesus than the American culture of Christianity. Maybe I am too fiery, but revolutions are sparked by fire, so I’m okay with it.
Photo by Dan Wilkinson.
Sheri Faye Rosendahl is a writer, lover of bold love, the Middle East, Yoga, and cookies. You can find more of her writing at NotYourWhiteJesus.org or find her on Facebook. Sheri and her BA husband, Rich, also run a non-profit called The Nations, doing peace and humanitarian work with refugee neighbors from the Middles East both domestically and abroad.