One of my passions in this world is worship. When we think of worship, we think of singing, praying, and lifting of hands. Some of my friends from the Pentecostal tradition see worship as much more physically involved and boisterous than some of my United Methodist friends, for example.And that’s perfectly fine! Worship is deeply personal and rooted in your connection with God. God speaks to us in ways that are very personalized to us, so our communication back to God should be equally as personal.
One of the ways we can worship God that seems unconventional is through resistance. That seems so counter-intuitive, but it’s really not. When Jesus walked the Earth, He was all about shaking up what early Christians thought they knew about being Christians. He spent his entire ministry proving them wrong, and (mostly) lovingly telling them why. Let’s take a look at some of the ways Jesus was down for the cause.
In today’s world, there’s a lot of tension between those that scream #BlackLivesMatter and those that shout #AllLivesMatter. Where would Jesus be on that spectrum? Matthew and Luke both took the time to write of the Parable of the Sheep that Jesus taught. In Luke’s version (chapter 15), it starts with Jesus being questioned by the Pharisees for hanging out with “sinners”. He then offers a rebuttal by saying, “Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it?” (Luke 15:4). Black lives are the one sheep. We are in danger, and Christ is willingly coming to look for us to protect us. In today’s world, not only would Jesus be on the front lines of the protest, he would also be in the background educating our #AllLivesMatter counterparts, probably by using a similar story.
Jesus also taught about racism in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Yep! That’s a story about racism too! Jesus was #Woke! In Jesus’ life, Jews and Samaritans were at war with each other and had been for generations. So when Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, he is deliberately and directly challenging the racism in the hearts of the folks in the room. Not only was the Samaritan the “good guy” in this story, there were other men, presumably Jews, who ignored the injured man in this story.
So how does this translate into worship? Worship is an expression of unconditional love of God. It’s different from praise, as praise comes out of thankfulness for things that God has done in our lives or the lives of others. Worship is simply an expression of love. Worship comes from loving God so much and wanting to follow the examples that have been set. Worship is an expression of unequivocal love and devotion to God and opens the channels for direct communication. Resistance fits into this.
As Christians, we are called to grow the body of Christ. If we are living in a world where only certain people are seen as having worth, the Kingdom of God will never be complete. If we are all made in God’s image, then we all are worthy of being a part of this Body. Fighting systems of oppression that keep us separated from one another handicaps our ability to reach our full potential as the Church.
We are called to love our neighbors. ALL of our neighbors. Anyone we may come in contact with is our neighbor. Contact, in the age of COVID-19 and physically distancing ourselves from one another, has an ironically widened scope. Following the calling to love one another is resistance to the norms that society has set in place. We show our love and appreciation for Christ by bringing those that are marginalized away from the margins and back into the fold of the flock. It may not seem like worship to yell #BlackLivesMatter whenever you get the chance, but you are fighting for the life of someone who the rest of the world sees as “the least of these”. And whatever we do for “the least of these”, we also do for Christ (Matthew 25:40).
Peace and Love.