One of the phrases from our Rule of Life speaks says that ‘we will seek justice for all creation…promoting justice for others…’ This has been a theme we have focussed on in recent months in our community worship. So when one member of Reconnect felt called to attend an anti-racism march organised by the UN it seemed like it was an experience that we needed to share. So here are Colin’s reflections on the day.
And what does the Lord require of you,
But to do justly, to love mercy
And to walk humbly with your God.
It seems to me that for some Christians, the topic of social action is perhaps a bridge too far. Some connect it all with politics and as such put it outside the remit of Gods’ agenda for His people. I even knew someone, about fifteen years ago, who belonged to a Christian group, who regarded human rights as ‘totally demonic’!
For my part, I feel at this time that I have spent so many years sitting in churches and by my efforts of worship and prayer and good attendance somehow felt that I would one day ‘attain’ a level of spirituality, holiness or purity that God would recognise and revival would come. After all this is the message which many churches seem to indirectly teach.
Maybe it’s a similar thought to that of the 1960’s hippies at Woodstock festival who said ‘Maybe if we think really hard we can stop this rain’, or, in a church context, ‘Maybe if we pray really hard, God will send the rain’. Whilst that still remains to be seen, in the meantime, there is still a world outside our churches, a world of oppression, intolerance, injustice and a world which can only be changed as people couple their prayers with action, and stand up for others.
As Gods’ people, God has put us in society, as salt to preserve and as lights, to shine. We need to be getting out there, getting involved with those who maybe don’t share our belief system but nevertheless are loved by the same God as we are and who sees their sufferings as well as those of Christians. We need to learn to see things from their side and understand their pain. It seems that these were always some of the things which Jesus was most interested in doing, in the gospel narratives.
Of course it was Jesus himself who said, ‘What good is it, if you only love those who love you,’ in His teaching about love for enemies (Luke 6 31-37) and maybe the church in our time has become less effective than Jesus intended as it has sought to withdraw, protect and exclude, when it should engage, render itself vulnerable and include all.
The church must learn to give itself away, to resign its power instead of gaining it and so begin to fulfil the beatitude that the meek shall inherit the earth.
It was early this year that someone I knew, made a very racist comment which I feel was motivated in part by our growing UK climate of intolerance for immigrants, lately whipped up by some parties in the name of national values. I began to realise that racism was alive and well in our time, and on our streets. Coupled with the backlash from the Charlie Ebdo shootings in Paris and the rise of far right groups such as PEGIDA in Germany, anti-semitism and Islamophobia seem to be growing in Europe. I feel that in the face of all this it is important that people in the UK speak up for the values of Human Rights and Equality, values which have become recognised as necessary through the human rights abuses suffered during WWII.
When I read in my UNISON magazine that the UN was planning a protest in London called ‘Stand up to Racism’, I was determined to be there. When the day came, it somehow felt a very small thing to hold up a placard on a march, but then again maybe it is when people remain silent that Human Rights abuses and injustices grow as there is no voice to bring challenge to oppression and evil.