We are living in an era of fake news. No, I’m not referring to the outrageous claims of President Donald Trump about CNN and the New York Times. I’m talking about the Good News of the gospel being hijacked by fear and despair as we proclaim the end of decency in the United States and around the world. As followers of Christ, we are called into the chaos to help share the Good News through word, service and prayer, and believing otherwise is just fake news.
In my biased opinion, the story of Jesus Christ is perhaps one of the greatest stories ever told, and one that fits a time such as this. Jesus was born into a time of dire economic disparity due to oppressive rule. This was a time when people were begging for a messiah to come. In a web of broken systems, the people looked for hope, but they certainly didn’t agree about what hope should look like. The Sadducees wanted someone to rebuild the temple, the Pharisees wanted a new lawgiver like Moses, the Essenes were looking for an apocalyptic messiah to come and overthrow the balance of society and the Zealots wanted a king to take control.
And when the Messiah came, he didn’t do any of those things.
Jesus came to set real captives free, to heal social and economic issues and to upset the powers that be by building the kingdom from the ground up as a political enemy of the state. Jesus taught us to be neither passive nor violent, but showed us how to use creative nonviolence to diffuse power and practice civil disobedience. Not only did Jesus create a new order here on earth, but he picked ordinary people like you and me to help him do it.
When the world around me feels dark and depressing, I refuse to give in to hopelessness: the fake news. Hopelessness only undermines the power of our God and our own power to bring joy and love to others. The Kingdom is here and now, waiting to be built from the ground up as Jesus intended. In this tumultuous time, I want my life to reflect the Good News of Christ, a life in which I stand in joy with the marginalized, the lesser-than’s, and the outsiders. That’s where God is.
As followers of Christ, we can’t give into the fake news. We must resist when the powers that be that tell us to cling to safety and fear the foreigner. It is imperative that we stand up for our neighbors, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, class, religion, or nationality. If you’re looking for something to give up, get rid of privilege, pride and greed, not your spirit.
I know there are days when it seems like the world couldn’t get any worse. I know that it seems like we are fighting Goliath without any stones. I know. And I have ached, cried, and lamented the pain that is sweeping across our nation and around the world. But when I want to give up (which is a benefit of my white Mennonite privilege), my hope rests in a God that rose from death three days later (that death was fake news) and lives today.
Peace, justice, and reconciliation are not going to happen by someone promising to reinstate law and order, to rebuild the church, to overthrow the system or when a new king takes control. It’s going to happen because of people who are living the example of someone who gave up everything to become a poor, homeless servant.
So are you living the Good News or fake news?
Elisabeth Wilder lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and is studying at Eastern Mennonite University. You can usually find her with a cup of coffee in her hand and her trusty planner by her side as she goes between classes, meetings, and other campus activities.
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