Travel with me to the 18th century when our [Christian] founding fathers of the United States of America came over to this land to seek religious freedom. After a short time here, they built churches where they worshiped on Sundays and found land where communities were expanded and colonized. What went on simultaneously though was the enslavement of Africans who worked their fields and the uprooting, robbing, raping and killing of countless Native Americans. How could a people who traveled together with a shared faith be the creators of such dreadful injustice. Even church leaders called those who promoted equality and opposed slavery were regarded as atheists, socialists and communists.
See Jesus' words in Mark (7:6-8)...
He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
"'These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.'
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."
What regular injustices in your world, in your life, are going on without any attention? What injustices has your culture, your environment, your family taught you to ignore that God is telling you to oppose?
We, like our ancestors, have held onto the traditions of men. The Church has, and you and I have. Our efforts are often so focused on avoiding sins of commission, but how much more guilty are we of these sins of omission! Martin Luther King, Jr. said it powerfully in his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail:
When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church, felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leader; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows.
I pray that you and many like you will partner with us in the coming year as we strive to become a church who will not claim ignorance to the needs of the world, who will not be cautious or remain silent behind the security of our stained-glass walls, but instead who will have our eyes opened to the suffering around the world, our hands soiled with the stains of poverty, our hearts broken from the cry of hunger, our lives complicated by the unfairness of discrimination and disease. We will not stand on the sidelines any longer. Join me in prayer that this church can be the salt and light of the world.