We used faith as a shield against the false notion that anyone has the power to inflict pain, limitation, despair, or any condition upon us. We in the movement decided to actualize our belief that the hatred we experienced was not based on any truth, but was actually an illusion in the minds of those who hated us.-pg. 25 Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America, by John Lewis
I have been praying this quote a lot lately. What does it mean to actualize our faith and bring it into fruition in the world? Does our faith actually have power or an impact in our community, or is it simply something that gives us personal comfort in times of distress? In the gospel stories Jesus is not seeking fame or celebrity. He is not performing miracles for name recognition or proving his righteousness, but has joined in God’s work of untying harmful structures that cause suffering. Clear and simple. Quoting the Jewish prayer known as the Shema, Jesus re-teaches what actualized faith looks like, love God, love yourself, love neighbor. Then he tells his disciples, along with temple officials, “Go and do likewise.”
John Lewis and many other Civil Rights leaders demonstrated the impact of a Christian faith united with God’s purpose. A faith that takes serious the life and ministry of Jesus who never resorted to hate, but love. Love revealed hate, and love healed that hate. This was the strategy of non-violent protests in the 60’s, hate revealed itself when innocent people sat at the lunch counter or sat at the front of the bus. Through the struggle, hearts were changed, political power rearranged, and those who once cried out could catch a breath.
In the face of violence and threats, largely from other Christians, Lewis says faith served as a shield. Think about that, faith as a shield. In living out their truest understanding of who God was, their faith was a refuge, knowing the right thing wasn’t popular or safe, but the will of a justice seeking God. Like Lewis, keeping God at the center reminds us that when our lives are tuned into God’s love, nothing can discourage us or keep us from hoping a new world into being. In the weeks and months to come, may we reflect on what impact an actualized faith rooted in God’s love could have for our part of the world How is God calling us to follow Jesus in this moment?
Holy and Loving God,
Thank you for being present with us.
When we are sick,
When we are stressed,
When we are discouraged,
When we long for a more just world,
you bring us back to the only truth that matters.
Only love makes us whole. Amen.
Blessings for your journey,