Standing Up for the Underdog – Social Activism for Christ

The morning was cloudy on the mountain, making it cold. While everyone on social media complained that it was already hot at 7:00 a.m. I prayed that we got a break from rain. Asked G_d to send the rain to Colorado or to keep the immigrants in the detention centers cool.

As I pray for guidance on how to make a difference as a disabled person, I feel helpless. I cannot go to a march or protest. I have been calling, writing, and standing up where I can and when I can. Have been trying to balance the world’s issues with my understanding of God’s compassion. So far, I feel inept and powerless.

It’s not that I don’t believe in the power of prayer because I do. Part of the challenge as we live and move as a people of God in a world in turmoil is that there is so much darkness. Wars are raging. Fires are burning. Volcanoes destroying homes and landscapes. Earthquakes are shaking up towns and cities. Destruction rages in nature. If that is not bad enough, another destruction is raging and is much more sinister.

When anyone turns away a child in need, they are destroying the fabric of goodness. Tearing a child away from a parent when both are already in distress is evil. We need to call it what it is. Can you remember being momentarily separated from a parent when in a crowd? It was terrifying. The time I remember was when I was in a store in Albemarle. That means there weren’t that many people and everyone was nice. Mama was just around the corner and she wasn’t gone as much as I had strayed away while playing in the clothes racks. Had I truly been lost, someone who knew my mother was probably in the store.

The setting in Texas, as people are deported back to Mexico, is not your friendly local store. I can imagine the fear of the adults, much less the children. For the children, it would be a time when they need their parents the most. When families move, children always need the security of their parents in order to begin again.

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.”  Matthew 18:6 NRSV

Even before the travesty of the children being put in cages, I was rereading Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship. It is a book we read in seminary during a history course. Bonhoeffer was important for talking about how there is grace, but grace without just action is cheap grace. He was one of the people working in Germany to stop Hitler and was executed just before the war ended. His story has watched me.

I say watched me because although there are many other biographies I’ve read since seminary, his story and his call to living a life of grace with just actions always made me think about life and my response differently. He even decided that if no one was going to stop Hitler, then he would. I know I can’t do that. But what can I do? How can I stand up for these people who need us (you and me) when I am disabled and on top of a mountain?

As I read another great hero of social justice, Martin Luther King Jr.’s words resonate with my heart and my belief. In the forward of Strength to Love, Coretta Scott King states it this way:

Martin Luther King Jr.’s theological believe in the interdependence of all life inevitably led to methods for social change that dignified the humanity of the social change advocate as well as his adversary. ‘Christ gave us the goals,’ he would often say, ‘ and Mathatma Gandhi provided the tactics.’”*

Those words gave me hope because her words pointed me in two directions that are clear. How? Christ gave us these goals:

 To love G_d with all your heart, mind, and soul  and  To love your neighbor as yourself

If you will remember the entire story of Jesus giving these goals, he used the example of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) as the way to discern “who is my neighbor?” That is best summarized as the one in need. A neighbor is anyone who is in need.

Jesus’ goals, go along with the tactics described by Mahatma Gandhi, for Gandhi’s tactics are those of non-violent resistance. When I attended a rally in Sylva, NC, it was pointed out that there is a specific training that helps non-violent protesters that is based upon how Ghandi trained his followers. You can see about the info here. It gave me hope to see that the training also teaches how to protect yourself from those who do become violent.

Our world seems more and more volatile in today’s global climate. I mean this both in the sense of political instability as well as geological and ecological instability. The upset of all of these systems and environments may make it feel like there’s little that we can do to make the world a better place. Yet, even the little I do will bring light to another. Your sharing of a kind word makes a difference.

Today, as I awakened from dark dreams to a dark day, it has been difficult to be hopeful. But the words of the great social activism of past leaders gives me courage. A new friend sent a kind message that brought light into my heart. Then, I see how my friends are working to make the world a better place and I am reminded that you too are doing the best you can to spread the love and light that is the goodness of G_d and the light of Christ. Do not give up. Let your light shine. The world needs you more than ever.


* King, Martin Luther, and Coretta Scott King. “Strength to Love.” Strength to Love, Fortress, 2010, p. ix.

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