Along the Way: We See You!

The caricature and denigration of “social justice” by Christian fundamentalist/nationalists is not only an abberation of the Gospel, it is a revelation of how wedded the Christian right is to the “dirty rotten system” (Dorothy Day). [1]

Fundamentalists/nationalists reap enormous benefits from that system because it blesses them as the false prophets fawn over their leaders and allege their movements are “of God.” [2] This is nothing new. Jeremiah 28-29 reveals how far back in biblical history faux blessings have undermind the ways of God. They feed egotism and ethnocentrism, but leave peoples’ souls bankrupt and corrupt.

Fundamentalists/nationalists also benefit economically. Imperialism always has an economic incentive for oligarchy as the few are enriched  at the expense of the many. [3] Sociologists have named the main feeders of it: the military-industrial complex, the market/corporate economy, and white-male supremacy. [4] These toxic forces feed the bank acounts of the oligarchs and provide dark-money donations to keep evil in place, but starve the virtues of stewardship, generosity, and the common good.

Jesus saw these things in play, saying words the system fears more than any other, “I see you.” Recognition and exposure are the seedbed where resistance is grown. When Jesus said, “I see you,” he shined the Light of God into the dark places, the hidden places, where evil plies its trade (John 3:19-20). When Jesus said, “I see you,” he had to go. [5]

Ah, but he did not stop there. He called his disciples to have eyes that see (Mark 8:18). He formed them into a counter-intuitive, counter-cultural community that went into the world telling the potentates and power brokers, “We see you.” And before the end of the New Testament era, we read (in Acts, Paul’s letters, and Hebrews 11) that the imperialists concluded that Jesus’ disciples had to go too.

We find ourselves in yet another time when to follow Jesus means to resist the fundamentalists/nationalists. The risen Christ is at work apart from us, in us, and through us. The Social Justice stream is released from the dam made by the oligarchs and false prophets, allowing “justice to roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream” (Amos 5:24). In the Wesleyan tradition this means a revival of social holiness across the land.

Those who do this will, as always, be harassed, caricatured, maligned, demeaned, marginalized, and oppressed (Matthew 5:10-12). But like Jesus, his first disciples, and true disciples since, the Spirit touches our lips with live coals from off the alter (Isaiah 6), putting these words on our tongue: “We see you.”

[1] Richard Foster explores the classic Social Justice stream in chapter 5 of his book, ‘Streams of Living Water.’
[2] Senator Rick Scott’s “Rescue America Plan” is an exhibit-A illustration of Christian Nationalism’s political/religious collusion, and false prophesy.
[3] Walter Brueggemann’s book, ‘Tenacious Solidarity’ looks at the fallen-world economy in detail.
[4] Richard Rohr, ‘What Do We Do with Evil?’ p. 53.
[5] Marcus Borg looks at Jesus’ collision course with the system in his book, ‘Jesus,’ chapters 9-10.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 43 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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