I was a pastor for 14 years. I know the pressure to uphold the status quo. To appease your tithing units and board. To refrain from controversy and politics. To keep on schedule with your sermon series.
But you must speak up. You must remember who you are speaking about.
Jesus was a refugee and revolutionary. He disturbed and offended the religious institution. He threatened the current political leaders who oppressed the vulnerable. You don’t get hung on a cross for telling people to be polite to each other. Mr. Rogers wasn’t crucified, but Jesus was. His message was not family friendly.
Because, if you don’t speak up, you’ll have to face the blank stares.
Of young people all over your congregation wondering if faith is relevant. Hoping Christianity makes a difference. Pleading for you to share about a God they had hoped still cares. Wondering if God is designated only for Sunday morning or is He also at the airport with the protestors the night before.
If you don’t speak up, you’ll be neutering the subversive, sacrificial, radical love of God for the marginalized, oppressed, and vulnerable. Grace will be less amazing but your church will be less offensive. I don’t think you can have both.
Dear Pastor, this Sunday you have a choice.
Jesus can be a projection or a projectile.(1)
He can become a projection of what comforts your congregation. He can be a special song, an offering, and a three point sermon. He can be “I’m fine.” and “How about that weather?” He can be compliments and coffee bars. He can be budgets and board meetings.
Or Jesus can become a projectile. He can come smashing into our preconceived ideas of ourselves, the other, and power structures. He can offend and disrupt us. He can shatter our realities and dare us to die to ourselves so that we may live. He can announce yet again, “You’ve heard it said, but now I tell you…” He can change us and return in us. He can surprise us and shock us. He can be a lion who will never be tamed. He can make us artists and activists. He can be everything you signed up for in the first place and more.
You must speak up.
Because He speaks to you.
Through the refugees being detained right now in airports.
Through the immigrants fearful of deportation.
Through the Muslim Americans lying awake tonight, wondering what’s next.
Dear Pastor, will you answer His call this Sunday?
“I was a stranger and you welcomed me” -Matt. 25:35
- Projection and projectile is an idea of Peter Rollins. Check out his books. I’m currently reading The Divine Magician.