Day 16

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

“I’m afraid of what you do in the name of your God”

Holly Near, “I Ain’t Afraid”

“When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.”

Maya Angelou

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My friend has a plaque hanging up in her kitchen “Everyone wants a revolution; Nobody wants to do the dishes.” Is there anything more true? In my house, everyone wants a clean house, no one wants to pick it up. We all want the glorious end, but who wants to do the work of actually getting there? I know I don’t. Why can’t things magically appear/change/be different, like now like right now? That isn’t how things work.

I am the pastor of a small and flailing church. Everyone wants things to change, but no one actually wants to change. I am told I am not the only pastor with this problem. It is amazing what people will tell you with their mouth. I think sometimes they even believe it. Everybody wants the revolution. But what we really need are people who will do the dishes.

I think my church, and my kids, and myself, I think we want to be radicals. I think we want to change. But we don’t want to do the work of actually doing the thing. I think for most of my theological life I believed that was okay. I believed what really mattered was my heart, that I professed with my mouth what Jesus really cared about.

But the more I learn about Jesus—the one we are waiting for, who left his throne in heaven to become a helpless, brown-skinned refugee baby to a scandal-clouded mother in an occupied land—the more I think Jesus cares about *what we actually* do in the places we are *right now*. As the kids might say, “If you wanna be about that life, you gotta BE about that life.” Or, as God said through Micah, your words and thoughts and religious ceremonies are *worthless* if you are going to act like God’s ways aren’t possible. 

Are we acting like the ways of God are even possible? Are we forgiving debts? Are we lifting up those the world is attempting to oppress? Do we believe that Black Lives Matter? Could someone tell that from the way we talk, or vote, or live our life, or spend our money?

It is all well and good to believe that the kingdom of God is coming but what are we doing to show the world it just might be true? What exactly are we doing in the name of our God? In the midst of my spiritual deconstruction I was given the Holly Near song “I ain’t afraid.” In the song she cries out that she isn’t afraid of Yahweh or any other gods, but rather what people do in the name of their God. While everything else was slipping away I clung to that. I wasn’t against God, I was against the things people were doing in the name of God. I didn’t see Love, or Mercy, or Justice in rejecting people. I saw fear, and we don’t have to act in fear. Perfect love casts out that fear. 

Jesus is perfect love. The kingdom of God is coming. The kingdom of God is here. Let’s act like it.

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Abby Norman is a former teacher and current preacher, who lives with her family in Atlanta and serves at newhopeatlanta.org.