By Kristen Johnson
Today is Good Friday, the day we honor and remember the day that Jesus was crucified. It’s a time of sadness and remembrance, but also a time of great joy because we all know the end to the story. But, there are many reasons for sadness today, mostly because it’s also a time to reflect on the message of Jesus and what He has called us to do. Why aren’t we doing what we should? What was the message and how can we better follow it?
Matthew 5:16 (NRSV): In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
It seems that this particular verse not only encourages us to do good works, but to do them so that people will know who we are and so that God can receive the glory for us doing our good works. Is writing a check to a charitable organization good enough? Perhaps we should do more of the work ourselves – volunteer in a soup kitchen, offer to help teachers put together materials for their classrooms, collect goods for the needy.
Mark 10:45 (NRSV): For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Jesus came to earth as a servant, and it is clear from His works and life ministry that we are to do the same. How does it serve others when we do nothing while our government dismantles women’s services that affect the poor, or cut funding to UN Women’s programs that reduce domestic violence across the world, or cut medical programs for the poor? If we intend to live a life of service, then standing idly by and watching it happen (or, worse yet, cheering it on) is unacceptable.
Matthew 23:12 (NRSV): All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
What does it say about our populace when we somehow managed to elect the biggest egomaniac ever to walk the earth as the greatest leader in the land? What does it say about us when we turn a blind eye to domestic violence within the ranks of the NFL, all in the name of hero worship for great athletes? When was the last time we cheered on a nun doing the work of the Church, a Muslim serving quietly is her neighborhood, or a non-religious neighbor who anonymously serves down the street at a local shelter? We should be talking about the humble, because that’s how we should all strive to be.
Matthew 5:43-44 (NRSV): You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
How easy it is to insist on “justice” for those who wrong us instead of praying for them. How much easier it is to insist on enforcing capital punishment in our country (which is really sickening) instead of reaching out to people who commit the most egregious of sins and insisting on forgiving them. Instead of cheering when our government starts wars against those who “wish to harm us” and finding every reason to celebrate when they insist on building walls and forcing families apart simply because people are literally running from horrific situations, perhaps we should be fighting for the opportunity to help these poor souls. Perhaps it’s time to seek to know each other better, to pray for each other, and to love everyone, regardless of our likenesses.
Holy Week is coming to an end, but the message is eternal. Seek to love. Seek to serve. Seek to be humble.
We can do better.
Serve all with love.
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