I’ll keep this brief, and I’m mainly looking at myself here.
Most of my readers have surely heard the bold statements in the bible about “true religion” and love your neighbor, and such, so I don’t need to go into a darned study on it, but here’s two of the passages anyway:
“True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows [the poor, the down-trodden, the weak, the powerless, the oppressed, the minority, the outside, etc] in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us.”
James 1:27 CEB
“My brothers and sisters, when you show favoritism you deny the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been resurrected in glory. Imagine two people coming into your meeting. One has a gold ring and fine clothes, while the other is poor, dressed in filthy rags. Then suppose that you were to take special notice of the one wearing fine clothes, saying, “Here’s an excellent place. Sit here.” But to the poor person you say, “Stand over there”; or, “Here, sit at my feet.” Wouldn’t you have shown favoritism among yourselves and become evil-minded judges? My dear brothers and sisters, listen! Hasn’t God chosen those who are poor by worldly standards to be rich in terms of faith? Hasn’t God chosen the poor as heirs of the kingdom he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor… You do well when you really fulfill the royal law found in scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself. But when you show favoritism, you are committing a sin, and by that same law you are exposed as a lawbreaker.”
James 2:1-9 CEB
I’m a middle-class, able-bodied, able-minded white guy with not a whole lot going against me when it comes down to it. And I’m certainly not alone as a professing Christian in this state.
We (I) have the ability to enter into and even alleviate the suffering of every kind of those folks in that first passage. I can and do choose, in a way, what I care about – my battles, my passions, who I advocate for, and to what extent. I can also choose to stay away, or even ignore many things, and I’ll go on living my life without effect. That’s privilege.
So why, if our hearts are supposedly changed-I’m a “new creature”, “born again”, regenerated, what have you-do we so consistently choose to insulate ourselves from the cornucopia of human pain around us, content to nibble at the edges, or go to church, and do just enough to sleep at night feeling like we did something? Where is my privilege and plenty sacrificed? What gospel do I believe (my sins are forgiven! Yay! Yours can be too! Is that it?)? Whose example do I follow anyway? Maybe if I’m not living so that others can’t help but label me as such, I shouldn’t take the name “Christian”.
I don’t know what to do with this right now. I’ve shared at length and for several years now my journey out of legalism and dead and deadly religion, and I know it’s had some positive effect on others who were also there. I cling to that some days. I wish to see healing in this world, and this area, spiritual abuse, is one place I feel in some way “called” (I kinda hate that term – it’s just me) and qualified by experience to speak to. I’m just beginning. What more can I give? How can I use what I have? Where to next?