God Stands With the Marginalized and the Oppressed

This guest post is by Cara Meredith, author of the book, The Color of Life: A Journey Toward Love and Racial Justice (Zondervan, 2019). Guest Post by Cara Meredith When I was in full-time ministry, I always returned to the story of the woman caught in adultery. At first, I was drawn to it for […] The post God Stands With the Marginalized and the Oppressed appeared first on Bible Gateway Blog.

God Stands With the Marginalized and the Oppressed
This guest post is by Cara Meredith, author of the book, The Color of Life: A Journey Toward Love and Racial Justice (Zondervan, 2019). Guest Post by Cara Meredith When I was in full-time ministry, I always returned to the story of the woman caught in adultery. At first, I was drawn to it for its illustrative power alone: I too could get down on my knees and draw letters and scribbles and tic-tac-toe boards into the carpet, just like I imagined Jesus doing in the dirt, centuries before. I too could incorporate a moment of quiet into my teaching, as I also thought Jesus would have done—my silence an invitation to the adolescents sitting before me to really think through Jesus’s actions, both to the woman and, ultimately, to themselves. Maybe this God doesn’t actually look down on me too, I prayed they’d wonder, perhaps when their heads hit their pillows later that night. [Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Seeing Black History Through Another Lens] As the years passed, though, I began to see the Johannine passage in new light. No longer did I read it solely through a lens of salvation or an assumed burden of proof, (so as to prove Jesus’ position for the individual heart, once and for all), but I saw Jesus’ interaction with the woman and with the religious scholars through a lens of political struggle and opposition. I saw the messy reality of the world Jesus inhabited, a place where the God of the universe sat with the tension of differing viewpoints and opinions—not only about the validity of his own deity, but also about whether all those ragamuffins he hung around with were worthy enough to be called children of God. And is it so different today? When I think about everything that’s happened in our world in the last couple of weeks and months, first with a global pandemic and then with the rebirth of a new civil rights movement, I can’t help but come back to this story once again. As a Christian, it’s impossible for me to ignore the threads of justice woven throughout Scripture. I can’t help but see, both in this account, but also throughout the Hebrew Bible and the rest of the New Testament, how God stands with the marginalized and the oppressed. In John 8, Jesus did not condemn the woman but sent her on her way; although she was given neither name nor voice in those eleven verses, because of Jesus’ response to her, she received dignity and worth. So, if, like this woman, I believe that God is on the side of those who’ve been rendered voiceless by unjust systems that benefit some but not all, then I can’t help but believe that God is on the side of those who are rising up and crying out and protesting today. I can’t help but believe that God is on the side of our black and brown brothers and sisters who’ve been the recipients of individual hate and systemic injustice since our country began. So, what then is our response? And what do we make of the God who sits in the midst of this myriad tension, in the midst of a country torn apart by vehement hate and vitriolic disagreement? Perhaps part of our response is to heed the invitation to learn how to “hold the oppressor and honor the oppressed,” both in ourselves and in our faith communities, fervently clinging to the belief that “love can redeem everything, including both the oppressor and the oppressed.” Perhaps part of our response is also to enter into the fullness of lament, not merely as individuals, but as churches and neighborhoods and cities, letting our collective cries wet the ground with tears. And perhaps, for some of us (most especially my white brothers and sisters), part of our response is to learn how to sit in tension and with discomfort ourselves, as we learn to listen to the sounds and the songs of those we haven’t always taken the time to listen to before. In and through all of this, when it feels like our world’s been torn to pieces, when we don’t know which way is up and which way is down, when protests and riots and looting ravage the news cycle, and when death seems to overwhelm the landscape of our country, we tune our ears to listen, closer than we ever have before. We dare ourselves not to merely survive the storm, as writer Marcie Walker suggests, but we beg one another lean in and listen to what the storm is truly saying. In a way, I doubt it was much different 2,000 years ago, when Jesus stood between a crowd of religious scholars and one lone, ostracized woman and made the baffling, religion-rattling decision to bend down in the dirt. After all, just like the woman who walked free that day, the story reminds us that none are free until all are free (Jewish poet Emma Lazarus). And I can’t help but wonder if this is what the body of Christ is ultimately invited into as well—as we stand on the side of the marginalized and the oppressed, as we fight for our black and brown brothers and sisters, as we rally for equity and change in every facet of the still-broken, upside-down world we call home? Perhaps this is our invitation today. This guest post is by Cara Meredith, author of the book, The Color of Life: A Journey Toward Love and Racial Justice (Zondervan, 2019). The Color of Life is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway. In The Color of Life, Cara Meredith, white wife of the black son of prominent civil rights activist James Meredith, asks how do we navigate ongoing and desperately-needed conversations about race? How do we teach our children a theology of reconciliation and love? And what does it mean to live a life that makes space for seeing the imago Dei in everyone? Cara’s illuminating memoir paints a beautiful path from white privilege toward racial healing, from ignorance toward seeing the image of God in everyone she meets. Cara grew up in a colorless world. From childhood, she didn’t think issues of race had anything to do with her. A colorblind rhetoric had been stamped across her education, world view, and Christian theology. Then as an adult, Cara’s life took on new, colorful hues. She realized that her generation, seeking to move beyond ancestral racism, had swung so far that they tried to act as if they didn’t see race at all. But that picture neglected the unique cultural identity God gives each person. When Cara met and fell in love with the son of black icon, James Meredith, she began to listen to the stories and experiences of others in a new way, taking note of the cultures, sounds and shades of life already present around her. After she married and their little family grew to include two mixed-race sons, Cara knew she would never see the world through a colorless lens again. Bio: Cara Meredith (@caramac54) is a writer and speaker whose work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, including Christianity Today, iBelieve, and For Every Mom. A former high school English teacher and outreach ministry director, she holds a Masters of Theology from Fuller Seminary. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two sons. Learn more at www.CaraMeredith.com. Become a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Get biblically wise and spiritually fit. Try it right now! The post God Stands With the Marginalized and the Oppressed appeared first on Bible Gateway Blog.