It’s all how you define it

Last week I posted that Jesus was, in many ways (but not in every way), woke. I define woke the way the Urban Dictionary does: alert to injustice and discrimination in society, especially racism. Simple and to the point. Michael Ruiz of Fox News wrote that woke, “evolved again with the rise of “cancel culture” — as the two terms saw increased use, they became intertwined in the public consciousness. Often, someone gets canceled after they say something insensitive – something not woke.” As in so many things, how we define something is too often guided by our political and/or religious perspectives, when it should be the other way around. People who commit violence in the name of God see themselves as being faithful; I see them as pseudo-religious terrorists. 

What I found interesting about my post is the way people from both sides of the issue responded. Some wrote that Jesus was always woke, while others bristled at my connecting Him with that particular word at all. Like saying that Jesus was liberal or conservative, there is no one word that fits all ways we can describe His actions. He made invisible, oppressed people visible, which is often considered a liberal approach to injustice. He also drove money changers off the steps of the Temple, thereby trying to conserve the traditional values connected to that institution. He saved a woman from a mob that wanted her dead for committing adultery – liberal. He also told that woman to stop committing adultery – conservative. Jesus went after injustice and took action to stop it, which is the very definition of being woke. He didn’t believe in canceling people when they didn’t agree with Him, but He did try to change their minds and lives.

I don’t live my life by trying to fit my actions and beliefs into a particular ideology, but I probably do that sometimes. My personal belief system is based on my faith, so when I think and speak about politics or capitalism, I try to do it from what I believe to be a Jesus point of view. Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I get it wrong, but it is always there as my guide. When we use God as a weapon or try to create God in our image, we commit idolatry. Wrapping Jesus in any nation’s flag is a way of taking God’s name in vain; using Jesus to sell widgets is as bad as what the moneychangers did. We won’t always get it right, but we always need to try. The first step would be to stop defending our bigoted and hateful views by using Scripture. That isn’t what it’s there for. It is there, according to 2nd Timothy 3, “for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.” Religion exists so that its practitioners can be better at being faithful in their own lives. It is there to help us take the log from our eyes so we can help others with the speck in theirs. Let’s do that instead of throwing insults, accusations, and weapons of mass destruction and distraction at those we disagree with.

Prayer – Holy God, thank You for waking us up to injustice, and for helping us to be better followers of You. Amen.

Today’s art is called “Modern Idolatry” by Cristina Bernazzani.