Here I Stand (a cross-post)
This post is not mine. It is from a friend on Twitter (@hughlh), posted here with his permission. His blog is The Personal Weblog of Hugh Hollowell. I encourage you to read this, and to go to his site to comment. Thanks.
Some people have recently said some things that lead me to think there is confusion about me and what I do – so I want to take a minute to clear things up.
I lead a group of people who minister to and love the very poor and homeless. And as long as that is all I talk about, then most folks have no problem with me or my work. But when I talk about gay issues, or gender issues or imply the church ever did anything wrong, folk become very concerned. And tell me that if I stray off homeless issues, they won’t support me. Or even be associated with me. In fact, some have actively tried to stop me. One guy called churches that I work with and told them I was a false prophet and heretic. (As we say in the South, “bless his heart”.)
Let me be loud and clear about something. The same thing I see in Jesus that leads me to have concern and love for the very poor and homeless puts me squarely on the side of anyone who is on the margins.
Let me be even more clear:
I have only one desire, one mission, one calling. It is to reach out to those-
who are broken
who are hurting
who are marginalized
who feel forgotten
who are passed-over
who are weeping
who are unloved
who have been so hurt they are afraid to love
who have been told they are outside of God’s love
who have been hurt in the name of God
who are not sure there is a god
who want to give up
who are so lonely they ache
who have only seen God used as a weapon
who have serious questions they are afraid to voice
who are afraid to hope anymore
who have been told their sexuality or gender separates them from God
who have been been made to feel less than fully human –
and to tell those people that God is on their side.
Jesus called them the poor in spirit. And he called them blessed.
And said they get the Kingdom of Heaven.
If you have this God thing figured out, if you’re convinced that you do all the right things that make your God happy, if you have no questions, no doubts, no fear – you aren’t poor in spirit – you’re rich in spirit.
And Jesus doesn’t have much of anything to say to you.
Sorry. I know that isn’t what you wanted to hear.
But that is what I am here to say… and shout… and live out.
If you are on the margins – God is on your side.
If you’re on the margins, this is good news indeed. The early followers of Jesus called it Gospel (which is just a Greek way of saying “good news”). If, however, you’re the one putting people on the margins – with your actions, your attitudes, your privilege, your assumptions, your power – that is anti-gospel… or anti-Christ. And you should repent (which is just a religious way of saying reconsider your position) – because you’re working against the stream. Against the way the world now works. Against the very will of God.
I’m an extrovert and I like to be liked. I want to not offend people, and I want people to agree with me and I want people to continue to support the work I do so I can feed my family. I want all of that.
But at some point, I had to accept that either Jesus is Lord – or he isn’t. Either he was telling the truth, or he wasn’t. And if he is, and if he was, well, then that requires certain sacrifices on my part. Like giving up being liked by everyone. Or being popular. Or being financially secure.
No matter how scary that is. But secure in the knowledge that being scared and unsure brings me closer to the very heart of God.
If you are offended by the way I reach out to the marginalized, if I don’t use the right code words to let you know I belong to your club or I spend what you think is too much time on the issues of people you would rather I not focus on – in short, if my carrying out my faith has offended you – well, I am sorry, but I cannot in good conscience do otherwise.
And if this causes you to think I am a false prophet, or mistaken, or deluded or heretical or beyond orthodoxy or whatever – well, I understand. And if this means you don’t want to be my friend or you don’t want to be associated with me or support my organization or you want to tell the whole world what an evil person I am and how I am leading folks to hell – well, you do what your faith leads you to do.
And I will go where mine leads me.
After all, we all sacrifice ourselves to one God or another.