Seeing Jesus in the Movement for Justice in Palestine

Photo courtesy of Mahmoud Ajour on the Electronic Intifada website.

With representatives like Rashida Tlaib and Illhan Omar speaking proudly about their unwavering support for Palestine, it seems the Holy Land is a major spotlight in today’s political conversations. For many, especially those who come from Christian backgrounds, the occupation can seem like a deeply complex issue. I once heard a friend say that, “the occupation is a complex issue, but also…it isn’t.” For those of us in the west, who are distant from the realities of the occupation, it’s difficult to know where to begin the journey to work towards justice in Palestine.

 

 

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Seeing Jesus in the Movement for Migrant Justice

“For the Lord your God...loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt."

- Deuteronomy 10:18-19

Photo courtesy of the BBC website.

Horrific detention center conditions, individuals dying at sea, and the overall treacherous journey endured by migrants and refugees are images displayed worldwide through social media and the news. Immigration in terms of illegal migrants and refugees fleeing persecution have been on the rise as a result of civil unrest and economic downturns. Families are currently escaping violence and persecution as a result of gangs, domestic abuse, government policies, and other forms of corruption. Yet, how is it that we can see Jesus in all of these happenings?

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Seeing Jesus in the LGBTQ Community

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

- Matthew 5:11-12 (NRSV)

When you look at the faces of your LGBTQ friends, do you see the light of Christ shining through them? I do. When I see a queer couple holding hands in public, or a Pride Parade on the news, I see nothing but love and acceptance — the very things that Jesus tried to teach us. Yet, like Jesus, we are persecuted for the love we share.

I recently attended my local LGBTQ Pride Festival; however, this time was special because I was able to bring my parents. They had never gone to a Pride event before and were nervous that as a straight couple they wouldn’t be welcome. Of course, they were welcomed with open arms! We walked around the booths of churches, stores, clinics, and other love-affirming companies, checking out the diversity of people and handmade items that passed us. It truly felt like a place where anyone could go and feel at home. It was the kind of hospitality that we read in our scriptures, perhaps similar to the way Mary and Joseph felt when they were accepted into the stable where Jesus was born.

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Seeing Jesus in the Movement for Racial Justice

Racism has echoed throughout history, dating back to when the bible itself was written. Paul addressed this when the church was divided between Jews and Gentiles, and the Jews tried to force non-Jewish (Gentile) believers to perform Jewish rituals. Rather than Paul telling Christians to ignore the discrimination against Gentiles, he proclaimed, “there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all, and richly blesses all who call on him” (Romans 10:12). People alone do not determine our value, God does. We are all created in his image. There is no separation or distinction between the value of one race or ethnicity over another. We’ve been taught to love thy neighbor as we love ourselves, but how we choose to love in the midst of chaos is a crucial piece of bringing peace and unity into our world.

Fifty years after the Civil Rights movement, trending conversations, such as #BlackLivesMatter and police brutality, are vigorous attempts to change the public’s perception of poor race relations. While sparking conversation appears to be the best way to help, most times it seems to only reveal frustration for those who don’t understand, or don’t care to, causing more pain for those affected. You’d think by now we would have learned how to adequately treat each other, but we haven’t. The biggest question to ask is how do we promote racial equality amongst those so heavily against it?

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Seeing Jesus in the Movement for Gender Equality

Photo courtesy of Sky News from the March4Women.

Differences — perhaps the most divisive part of our lives, as people, is the fact that we are all different. What does it mean to be different? Humankind has consistently struggled with this. From individuals to whole societies, differences mark us at every level of our lives. Gender is just one of the labels we use to differentiate one another; and yet, there are some differences which are not so important.

In his myriad travels and stories he tells, Jesus reminds us time and again that many differences we uphold or condemn are not so important. From the story of the Good Samaritan to the people with whom he associates, such as the “sinful woman” who anoints his feet in the gospel of Luke, Jesus deliberately crossed social boundaries to show how little our all-important differences matter in the eyes of God.

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