“Has the world gone mad? “Are words put to many songs as people struggle to come to terms with societal turmoil. My favorite is Beenie Man in his 2008 album, titled Undisputed. My friends, we are witnessing so many ongoing events that challenge our understanding of morality and spirituality. Sadly, as the election season draws nearer, one only expects these events to become worse; more combative and filled with vitriol. Thus, it is important for us to keep our faith strong as we face the upcoming storm. Faith here is not some innate concept but a deeply held belief in the power and presence of God who encourages to journey even when it is dark and oppressive.
Faith is that which propelled Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglas, Dr. MLK King, Jr. through the most oppressive of times. When God seems absent, faith declares, “We are the God bearers”. Without Faith and without God, there is no courage. Understanding and believing in the existence of God is the courage that sustains each Christian in times of adversity, when hate and fear rule.
During my training as a Hospital Chaplain, one of the tragedies we learned many working in the medical field face is called moral injury. Moral injury describes the mental, emotional, and spiritual distress people feel after “perpetrating, failing to prevent, or bearing witness to acts that transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations.” This trauma is described in the book Moral Injury and Burnout in Medicine: A Year of Lessons Learned by WENDY DEAN and SIMON G. TALBOT. Many physicians struggle with doing what is best for the patient versus getting paid to clear their student loans or sustain their lifestyle. Expediency versus healing leads to a moral/spiritual injury is my simplistic understanding of this emotional quagmire.
I wish to take the liberty to extend that to many who are struggling to come to terms with recent events around the Impeachment and Senate acquittal processes of the most corrupt president in the history of the United States. When we witness Christians sitting at a National Prayer Breakfast who are fearing the consequences of not applauding for an anti-Christian message, we all suffer a moral injury. When one witnesses churches repeating anti-racist tropes during Black History Month while perpetuating racist actions all year long, eventually, one is felled by moral injury. We must question those individuals’ faith, their lack of courage, and we must question ourselves as Christians. "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." MLK, Jr.
Jesus recognized this scourge of religion which practices hatred while preaching love, and He declared it as sinful.
Mathew 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything but is thrown out and trampled underfoot”.
To be a follower of Jesus challenges us not just to keep walking to the light in the tunnel, but to become that light in the tunnel. He challenges us to be bold and willing enough to enter humbly and sacrificially into the lives of the hungry, the lost and the lonely and to declare God is with you always. It is about the willingness to live out our baptismal vows which say we are bearers of the Holy Spirit; the same Holy Spirit, which inspired John the Baptist, Blessed Elizabeth and Nelson Mandela, and delivers us from the wrath of moral injury.
Friends, I keep talking about a Jesus Movement. Movement is a physical action; a change from one posture to another. Our Jesus Movement is both physical and spiritual; it is love in action. It is not simply loving; it could be working with those in need of our services. It could be praying for the President to do the right thing, or it could be voting him out. Our movement is understanding, acting, being present and loving. This is complicated; it is hard, but it is what is needed.
One of our members, who is a physician, can testify of the price he paid for not succumbing to the practices that lead to moral injuries. He can testify to the sacrifices and the burdens laid upon him and his household because of his moral courage. He declares his strength exists because of the faith he learned from his parents and his faith continues to nurture and uphold his household and his morality.
So, yes, the world seemingly has gone mad, as climate change wreaks havoc, the wealth gap continues to widen, the poor are oppressed, opioids kill, racial tensions are increasing, and Christianity is being torn asunder like the veil of the Jerusalem Temple. And yet, Jesus declares reconciliation through love. Love for the hungry, love for the poor, love for the oppressed, love for lost, love for the broken spirited. Love even for the oppressor. Love is the only response to moral injury.