As Christians in America, we have a great deal of privilege. The extent of our individual privilege has to do with our demographics, but by virtue of our “status” as American Christians, we all share a level a privilege.
With that privilege comes a great calling and a great opportunity I believe many of us are missing. We’re not necessarily missing it on purpose. We’re just comfortably busy. Or maybe, we’ve never heard about it.
I grew up a WASP (white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant) in New England, with ancestors who came over on the Mayflower. As a female, I’m somewhat “less privileged” than my male counterparts. And sure, I’m middle class, so some people are more privileged in the money department than I am.
But as far as privilege goes in America, I have it. And it’s up to me what I chose to do with it.
The Truth About Privilege
If we’re honest, privilege is comfortable and insulating.
Growing up I knew four black families, and only two of them were in school with me at the same time. I lived comfortably, never needing anything, in a small suburban town where most people were just like me. I’m 31, and it’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve begun to realize the world I grew up in is not the world everyone grows up in.
It’s easy for us to chase the American Dream and never notice the people around us. We can change the channel, selectively only follow people like us on social media, and cross the street when differences make us uneasy.
We don’t have to see the systemic racism, the oppression of our LGBTQ+ neighbors, the thousands of kids in foster care, the homelessness, the drug addiction, the rape culture, the sex trafficking, or any other injustice in our cities, states, and country. It’s even easier to tune out the oppression and injustices occurring around the globe.
We can choose not to examine the prejudices in our own hearts and the ways we consciously or unconsciously contribute to the dehumanization of others created just like us in the image of God.
But Jesus calls us to more.
We’re Called to Fight for People
Jesus redeemed us for more. Our redemption comes with great reward and great responsibility. We are not redeemed to live comfortable, safe, insulated lives.
Jesus calls us to bring His love and redemption to others — to fight for them. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) is not just about building churches and sending money to missionaries.
Jesus instructs us to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, invite the stranger in, give clothes to the naked, take care of the sick, and visit people in prison (Matthew 25:31-46).
Jesus calls us to share the Gospel and to love people in tangible practical ways.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Throughout the entire Bible, God makes it abundantly clear He cares about the oppressed, the widows, the orphans, the sick, the refugee, and all those suffering injustice.
Throughout the Old Testament the Israelites repeatedly got in trouble for one of two things: worshipping idols (not loving God) and inflicting or allowing oppression (not loving others).
Loving others is a big deal to God, so it needs to be a big deal to us.
Taking the First Step
I am preaching to myself as much as I am to anyone reading this. I like to be comfortable — if I’m being completely honest comfort is an idol for me. But I also deeply care about people, and I can’t just sit around watching Netflix while people are getting hurt.
We are uniquely here “for such a time as this.” Our privilege, though we didn’t earn it, is not an accident, and it is not for our comfort.
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).
When we stand before Jesus, He will ask us what we have done with what He gave us. What will we say?
It’s true that we cannot do something about everything. But we can all do something.
It’s not about doing what we think will help. It’s about meeting people, listening to them, and loving them.
The first step is understanding. We can’t love someone we don’t know, and we can’t work to bring justice to an injustice we’re unaware of.
Over the coming weeks and months my friend, John Weirick, and I will seek to shine light on the injustices happening around us. And we will look for practical ways to love people and bring justice.
Will you join us?
Let us know in the comments or on Facebook what injustices you see, and what God is calling you to do about it.