Desmond Tutu. Corrie Ten Boom. Harriet Tubman. Mineo Katagiri. Jim Wallis. Mairead Maguire. Betty Williams. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Tony Campolo. William Barber.
What do these people have in common? Christianity strengthened them to be activists fighting injustice. Some are a part of history. Others are still with us. Many I could name but you wouldn’t recognize ordinary people, going about their lives until they realized evil must be stopped, people protected or served because it’s what Jesus would do.
The struggle they faced reminding others Jesus was/is an activist too was real. I experienced this challenge participating in the Women’s March on Raleigh together. With almost 20,000 diverse people present, it was an exhilarating day…until I got home.
Friends posted they were questioned on how Christians could be at a march where there was vulgarity, pro-choice people, gay people, protestors against the president, violence (there was none, in DC or Raleigh). Strangers asked what I, a former minister, thought could be accomplished by protesting, without realizing I marched, while they called the participants disgusting. No Christian would ever participate in something like that, right? Wrong.
We were at the Marches too. Christians marched. Yes, they did. Churches marched together carrying signs with “Matthew 25” or various verses:
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Ministers spoke at the Raleigh March. Sure, we mingled with atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Jews. Jesus ministered to the world. He didn’t shame or “other” people. He recognized teammates when he saw them, people in need of love and strength.
Our own complacency, hesitancy to stand up and articulate our faith, has alienated people from Jesus as much as far right groups or the media. Even though I know “walk the walk” conservative Christians, google “Christian activism” and you get extreme right and hate-filled articles and photos. Where are Christians who see both sides of many issues, protect and help those disenfranchised, protest against the executive orders? Who believe we can have our faith and still have a secular government? Where are the pictures of us?
It’s time to share our own activist Christian faith, reflect our core values and belief in Jesus Christ. How do we do that? Yes, you may feel alone but there are more of you than you think. Jesus is an activist. You can be too.