I’ve been reading Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil’s new book, Roadmap to Reconciliation, and it has been rocking my world. I came across one thing she said and it made me stop, “What we believe about God will tell us what we believe about people, and what we believe about people will tell us what kinds of communities and societies we believe we should strive to create.”
This is it. This truth is why I get so passionate about justice issues, about equity, about any situation where someone’s treated like their life is valued less. This is why it’s hard for me to understand why we don’t talk about the hard things and stand up for the right things in church. This is why it’s hard for me to believe someone who professes to follow Jesus can be racist, homophobic or turn a blind eye to such broken systems like our education and criminal justice systems.
Our theology informs everything we do, how we view people, the decisions we make, the causes we take up. Theology is just what we believe about God. If we really believe everyone was created in God’s image then we would treat them like they did. If we really believed that God meant it when he said to love our neighbors and even our enemies…it would change how we treated others. If we really believed God meant it when he said to take care of widows and orphans or that he’s on the side of justice…wouldn’t we care more about justice? Wouldn’t we believe we should be doing everything we can to bring more love into the world and help create a place that affirms that image of God in others? If we believed God created the earth and all that inhabits it and declared it good, why wouldn’t we help steward that and care for it well?
I think we’ve allowed a disconnect to happen between what we believe about God, what we believe about people and what kind of communities we should strive to create. We don’t see how they’re connected. We lose sight of how our theology should shape how we treat people and if your theology involves following Jesus it should be rooted in one thing…love.
This is why it matters that we stand and declare that #blacklivesmatter because we recognize that for too long they’ve been treated like they don’t. Because my theology professes that each human is stamped with the image of God and that no life matters more than another. So I should be outraged and broken over the fact that there are too many examples of how white lives matter more. I can’t turn a blind eye to that.
This is why it matters that we stand and declare that refugees should be welcome here or that our goal isn’t to isolate ourselves from “outsiders.” No amount of American exceptionalism should trump our theology. Because what we believe about God will tell us what we believe about people and what we believe about people will tell us about what kinds of communities we believe we should create…and I’m pretty sure Jesus said to welcome the stranger and to not neglect showing hospitality to strangers. If we believe everything else he says…we can’t ignore the things that make us uncomfortable.
I’m tired of living in a world of disconnect. I ache over the lack of shalom in our world, but I believe there’s a better way. I believe God is love. I believe God created each of us in his image, therefore declaring that we have value, worth and that we belong. Everyone. No questions. No exceptions. I believe God is on the side of the oppressed and on the side of justice. I believe God has shown us what kinds of communities and societies we should strive to create when we pray your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We should strive to create communities and societies where everyone is welcome and loved. Where grace is shown and kindness is a universal language. Where the table is big enough for everyone. Where we are peacemakers and we remember that we belong to each other. Where we live into the truth that God loves us and out of the overflow of that love we are able to love each other.
I believe in a world built on connection, where the disconnect is no longer present because we remember that what we believe about God tells us what we believe about people and what we believe about people tells us what kind of communities we should strive to create.
And if it all starts with what we believe about God well…God is love.