I woke up yesterday convinced that I should write about what some call the racial divide in our country. I see it as more than a divide–more of a racial cleansing. I was going to write about the confluence of the War on Drugs, which is sending so many of our black children to prison, the growing privatized prison industry gaining profit from from keeping more inmates than any other civilized country in this world, and using the inmates as slave labor to make even more profit. I was going to write about states reducing funding for public school systems, the “stand your ground laws” that allow someone to stalk and kill a black person and be deemed innocent upon claiming to be afraid, states stripping the right to vote from those who have prison records, states stripping away voting rights of people of color– and the Supreme Court clearing the way for that to happen. I was going to talk about the effort of many states to purge themselves of Hispanic immigrants, the constant efforts to water down Affirmative Action, and how a majority in the House of Representatives want to do nothing more than to defeat any proposal from our first African American President, with the support of their constituents to do that.
These things, along with the Washington Post’s survey showing a deep racial, ideological and religious divide over the result of Trayvon Martin’s killer’s trial, all lead me to believe that there is a mindset held by a large percentage of the population in this country that must be similar to the mindset in Germany when the Nazis demonized and justified killing millions of Jewish people–and the German Christian church mostly going along with that. I believe that many of those who claim to be conservative will also claim to not be racists, but yet they support all those things that are killing off our people, which, to their way of thinking, is not their fault, but ours. Is it a conscious and concerted effort led by some of the power brokers, like the Koch brothers, who put so much of their billions into defeating Obamacare, pretty much anyone who’s running for office who is not a conservative, and anything that is designed to help the poor and raise the middle class? Probably so.
But I decided today that I’d rather write about the God of hope. The biblical record lets us know that when it seems like all is lost, that’s when the God of hope steps in: Joseph redeeming his family after the brothers thought they had killed him; little David defeating the giant Goliath; Queen Esther (of the “if I perish, I perish” fame) saving her people from slaughter, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, to name a few examples in the Old Testament. Plus of course, Jesus, who humbled himself to the point of being crucified, dead and buried before he arose and was exalted by God, and who now sits on the Throne, with all power given to him.
This God of Hope still exists, as evidenced through history in the American Revolution, the defeat of slavery through the American Civil War, the defeat of segregation through the Civil Rights effort and the defeat of Apartheid in South Africa, to name a few. These examples tell us that larger, more powerful foes can be defeated and overcome by those who seem weaker and more vulnerable–those who, by the state of their being weak, know that they must not rely on their own power and strength, but on God. As I heard Jacqueline Thompson, one of my favorite young female preachers say, “One plus God is enough!”
The thing is that the God of hope doesn’t work alone. Our God works through people who are committed to do God’s will– those who are willing to tackle giants who want to slaughter their people, those who are willing to go before the kings, even though they know they may perish, those who are willing to stand up for righteousness and justice in the face of powerful foes, and those who are willing to die to save others.
God needs people like that. God needs more people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian who did not back down from challenging the Nazi regime. He died an honorable death, the death of a person who really knows how to be a friend, according to Jesus: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12) Jesus is that kind of friend. Jesus wants us to be friends like that for each other.
I trust in this God, therefore I have hope. I have hope in God and hope in so many wonderful people I know who are willing to stand up for what is right. Just writing this brings back my joy that even this mean, crazy and mixed-up world can’t completely take away, and my peace, that this world just doesn’t get.
Next week, I plan to share information on some ways we can become involved.
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