Recently, more often than I would like, I have been in the midst of people who make incredibly racist statements. I was sharing one of these instances with a coworker and I was explaining how I hadn’t known what to do or say. The comments caught me off guard in such a way that I did nothing, partially because I was shocked and partially because it was easier to say nothing. My friend gently pointed out that while these people were not mocking my family, they were mocking someone’s family. She reminded me that as my husband and I are open to adoption, one day these comments could be directed at my children. She explained that the longer I say and do nothing, the easier it will become.
She’s right. I should have said something. I should have made it clear that I don’t feel the same way. I should have done something to point out that these people have worth and they deserve respect. I am ashamed that I just let things slide because it was convenient.
This whole situation got me thinking about the role Christian’s should play in standing up for the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized. I believe that scripture is quite clear that God calls us to care for those who need help. We are to stand up for those who can’t stand for themselves and stand beside those who are fighting injustices in this world. (A quick search brought up these verses in Proverbs: 22:22-23 22:13 17:5 14:31)
I love the idea of standing for what is right, and I admire those who take a stand for what they believe in, and yet it’s not easy to practice. Sometimes standing for what’s right has a huge price tag. Sometimes the employee who stands for unfair labor practices loses their job or misses a raise. Sometimes the citizen who takes a stand against civil or human rights violations can end up in jail. Sometimes when we remind a friend that a racist comment is unacceptable we can lose a friend.
Taking a stand can be very, very costly. So why risk it? Why stand for things or people that don’t directly impact me? I can think of two reasons:
1. Scripture says to. The second greatest commandment is to love my neighbor (even if they are on the other side of the world) as myself. My husband and I work hard to make sure we have a safe place to live, food to eat, we are treated with respect and our government treats us fairly. If I am to love others as I love myself – then I should work to ensure this for them as well.
2. The risk to a Christian is minimal. If we truly have an eternal mindset and believe that our treasure is in heaven, then the loss of earthly goods is only temporary. We hold them lightly knowing that another person is worth so much more. When we take a stand for another person, the only things that are taken from us were never ours to begin with. They were only tools to help us walk through our time on earth and instruments to praise and point to our savior.
None of these are easy lessons. I am far from where I need and want to be - but I want to start moving in the right direction. When I hear about injustices done to other people I get angry, but I need to get moving. I need to act and stand for what God stands for… even when it makes me very uncomfortable.