By Corey L. Brown
As a Christian minister, I have spent lots of time lately contemplating what it means to hear Western Christians say thing like “G-d is love,” “we are supposed to be followers of Jesus,” or “G-d is in control.” Are these things we say to make ourselves feel good about inaction? Are they nothing more than key words and tricky phrases to convince ourselves and others that we are “christians?” I purposely did not capitalize the word “christian” because I believe there are two types and the lowercase word represents what I have seen, especially as of late. The demographics of the protesters has changed significantly from just last year as I marched alongside my Muslim, LGBTQ, and Latinx friends. As a people watcher, I noticed many of my African-American and white “christian brothers and sisters” were noticeably absent, but could always be found before or after a protest talking about the love of Christ. I have also been chastised by fellow African-American “christians” at two different predominantly black churches for wearing my “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt to service. I was even greeted with the dismissive “All Lives Matter.” I have never argued that all lives do not matter or that black lives mattered exclusively and still do not condone it, but I will continue to stand for the re-humanization of people of color here in America, especially as a person of color.
Yes, G-d is love, but it is not the human emotion we attribute to love. Love in the sense of faith is faith in action. It is not just walking around saying that I follow Christ or that I love G-d. It means denying oneself for the sake of others. It means calling out injustice towards anyone, no matter their ethnicity, gender orientation, sexual preference, faith practice, or whatever it is that makes them the individual they are. We are here to help people to walk in the calling on their lives, not in what we think that should be. Literalism and fundamentalism are the enemies of true Christian faith. We cannot call ourselves Christians if we continue to try to institute all the things G-d incarnate came to earth to dismantle. I sincerely believe that Jesus and the prophets of all religions worked to break down walls and build bridges, but humanity is doing its damnedest to rebuild the walls meant to keep us apart. Many churches preached from the Gospel of Matthew about turning the other cheek and loving our enemy this past Sunday, but I think sometimes we are too narrowly focused on defining friends and enemies, based on who agrees or disagrees with us. By default, we think that we have to have enemies, so that we can be what G-d calls us to be by being able to “stand against the enemy.” The more we truly walk in faith in G-d, the fewer enemies we will see. As a faith leader, my focus to standing against principals and errant beliefs, not so much against people.