What’s faith for?
Let’s do a thought experiment. Suppose a man in your neighborhood stole your car. Suppose he flaunted his theft by driving it around the neighborhood and claiming it as his own. Over time, he trades that car for a newer model and gives the next car to his son, who drives it as if it were a rightful gift from his father.
You squawk to your neighbors about this injustice until, at long last, they begin to see your point. Yes, they admit, your neighbor shouldn’t have stolen your car or sold it and profited. But in the interest of peace, they think you should let it go and move on. After all, he’s been driving your car for so long that it would be impractical to force him to return it and compensate you for your loss.
This analogy could be applied to all sorts of ills in our society. We hear about them more than ever now because we are waking up to them and social media has become a squawk box. People get tired of hearing about these things and clamor for peace.
Most of us concede that African-Americans have been systematically harmed in this country by the legacy of Jim Crow laws designed to prevent them from gaining equality across generations. Sadly, society advises these harmed neighbors to accept their history quietly and face forward with no expectation of redress.
Women are paid 78 cents on the dollar compared to men for the same work. Yes, but it’s not as bad as it used to be, some reply, and it’s better to let the marketplace sort it out than to ask for laws that treat people fairly.
OK, we get it. Some people are gay and others straight. Neither chooses which they want to be. But can’t we just go back to the days when it wasn’t in our face — when people kept their same-sex orientation private and didn’t demand social acceptance that offends the sensitivities of good, moral people?
We live in an apocalyptic time. For some, the apocalypse is only about the end of days when the social order we believe God created is in chaos. Faithfulness requires us to bear these things bravely, or at most, resist them until God delivers us.
For others, the apocalypse is, as the word means literally, an unveiling. We are seeing the ugly underlying truths we have been lying to ourselves about. To tell ourselves the truth about them would require us to act in uncomfortable ways.
We may not all come to the same conclusion about the causes of injustice, but faith faces facts unflinchingly. It doesn’t excuse or evade them. Faith overcomes the world — not by escaping it for our own good but by changing it for the common good.
George Mason is pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church, president of Faith Commons and host of the “Good God” podcast. The worship column does not reflect the views of Advocate Magazine or its advertisers. The Worship section is underwritten by Advocate Publishing and the neighborhood businesses and churches listed here. For information about helping support the Worship section, call 214.560.4202.