During his ministry Jesus tells the crowds, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” It’s a difficult teaching however you look at it. On the one hand, we know that personal sacrifice and the taming of the ego are an integral part of spiritual “maturity” for lack of a better word. On the other hand, how can Jesus’ crucifixion—this miscarriage of justice, this ugly mix of a state-sponsored execution and a mob-incited lynching of an innocent person be an appropriate metaphor for discipleship?
The difficulty is that the cross is both a symbol for discipleship and it is itself an injustice. And sometimes we get confused about which kind of cross people are carrying. Fasting during Lent is an act of discipleship. Being food insecure or being malnourished is not. It is an injustice. A hunger strike to protest lack of government action on climate change is an act of personal sacrifice, moral courage, and spiritual discipline. But climate change itself is an injustice, a crisis, and a tragedy that Christians should not bear meekly.
This photograph was taken by John Moore for Getty Images on September 30, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. We see Maricopa County Constable Darlene Martinez escorting a family out of their apartment after serving an eviction order. The photo focuses on a girl—maybe around ten-years-old, clearly distressed—as she leaves her home. She’s carrying a laptop, a blanket, and a stuffed animal.
The CDC issued a moratorium on evictions in September of 2020, but a renter has to know about the protection and file paperwork to stop the eviction process in order to benefit from it. Unchallenged evictions still continue. And at the time of this recording the CDC’s eviction moratorium is scheduled to expire on March 31. Even with this protection, eviction filings this March have been up nearly 50% in some places over where they were last year. And if the protection is not renewed, there are (according to a recent census bureau survey) 8.3 million households behind on their rent in the US and vulnerable to eviction.
Let us pray:
God, grant us the strength to carry crosses and to tear crosses down. Jesus, you who had nowhere to lay your head, be with those who have nowhere to lay theris.
Jesus the Imagination
Thoughts and dreams, musings and meditations