Last week I spent an intense and very educational week learning and exploring the theme of Land and Justice from a Christian perspective. I enjoyed this time of applied theology because of the varied discussions and daily self-inventory, yet, at the conclusion of our time together some of us did not have an answer to the question of how we relate to land and justice as Christians and what we could do to address any troublesome issues regarding how to care for God’s creation.
I couldn’t help but reflect on the painful history of how the early Christians applied their understanding of land and justice when colonizing North America. The land was taken away from Native Americans through deceptive means and the taking of their lives. The land was then tended to and developed by African-American slaves and eventually indentured servants were added to the labour. For the longest time I couldn’t understand why Christians were uncomfortable with the history of our continent. Why was the story of our continent developed into delightful and heroic historical narratives based on non-truths? What was it that made Christian culture avoid revisiting the truth of its history with this land we call North America?
The only conclusion, and this is a partial conclusion, that I could surmise, is the belief that mainstream Christianity avoids uncomfortable truths. The gospel is filled with examples of people who were uncomfortable with Jesus’ teachings, but it didn’t stop him, he just kept on preaching and teaching. If the teachings of Jesus were comfortable, it would not have been effective. When we are confronted with the need to change our beliefs or our actions we experience a certain uneasiness.
As individuals and as a cultural community; what would happen if our Christian culture taught us to be brave enough to face the uncomfortableness of having our non-truths challenged by fellow Christians? What would this look like in our culture? What would we gain, what would we lose?
How do you deal with the modern day methods of Jesus, and by methods I mean that Jesus was:
Forthright in his interactions with his religious community
Cognizant of the ethnic and religious disparity and injustice among his people
Not afraid to correct the incorrect teachings of the religious leaders in his synagogue
Filled with compassion for those who were oppressed, shunned, and despised by his ethnic community
Amazing enough to extend his love to those who gave him lip-service, called for his death, ignored him, and discredited him for speaking and practicing biblical truth
Jesus’ entire ministry and life was filled with engaging people in those uncomfortable truths. People were uncomfortable with the idea that yes, they too could be forgiven, embraced, and loved by God. There were those who were uncomfortable with being told that what they thought was biblically true was actually misunderstood. Some were uncomfortable with being challenged about power imbalances within the religious community. There were twelve who were uncomfortable with Jesus’ explanation as to what God had called him and them to accomplish here on this earth.
From Genesis to Revelation I see how God’s revelations and truth created uncomfortableness within and among those who believed in Him. Developing meaningful faith in our relationship with God involves varying levels of discomfort in our devotion to living in a manner that we define as Christ-like.
We all have different areas where we experience religious and spiritual discomfort, but I want to pose this question to you for self-reflection and without judgement.
On the Stages of Change, where would you say you were at when it comes to facing spiritual discomfort in relation to being open to hearing and addressing the issues of land and injustice within our Christian culture and communities?
Would you be able to address issues of land and injustice using the same methods as Jesus did within his own community?
Prayerfully consider how you view the correlation between land and justice from a Christian perspective.
Ask God to reveal to you any topics of justice that cause you discomfort. Pray for His spirit to guide you to safe people, resources, or places that can help you process your discomfort.
Be easy with yourself, we all have spiritual challenges in being people who seek and practice biblical justice. God will continue to show us the injustices of this world and He will be there with us as we move towards a Micah 6: 6-8 life of faith in Him.