This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Powell: Are you ready for Jesus?

In my last column I quoted a person who responded to the world’s chaotic state by saying, “Come, Lord Jesus!” He was a far-right evangelical Christian who supported the government’s harmful actions aimed at marginalized peoples. He reveled in knowing he had been born again.

John Powell

I asked myself, “Actions against the poor and marginalized aren’t consistent with being born again. Are they?” People who support these actions might need to rethink what it means to have a renewed life.

By word and deed, Jesus demonstrated that people of faith must confront the powers of destruction. To a leader of the religious establishment who sought answers, Jesus said, “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3).

Many of my brothers and sisters on the far right have accepted Jesus’ warning but haven’t embraced what it means. Scripture is peppered with guidance for how to respond to the disenfranchised among us. But many of us aren’t ready to be full participants with Jesus in working for an inclusive and reconciled society. We are too willing to participate in acts of aggression against the people Jesus calls us to protect.

Are you ready for Jesus?

Consider the following:

What beliefs do you stand on?

Our beliefs form the foundation of our actions. They determine how we live and respond to others. As Christians, our foundation is Jesus Christ, who came to show us the face of God. His actions were not exclusionary, biased or politically motivated. If our lives are built on the counsel and acts of Jesus, then we have a solid foundation from which to engage the world around us. Our beliefs will move us to be and act like Jesus.

What do you stand for?

Do you stand for justice? Taking action for justice, equality and reconciliation is foundational to our Christian faith. It may not get us many accolades from the powers. It may land us in some trouble. Jesus taught us to pray that God’s will be done here and now, as it is in heaven. God’s kingdom begins on Earth. Stand and be counted!

Whom do you stand with?

Standing with the power brokers might feel good, but that feeling is temporary. Jesus stood with the oppressed, ministering to the have-nots. He was accused of hanging out with the wrong crowd. If we follow Jesus, we too will be found among the outcasts — the wrong crowd by elite society’s standards.

Are you ready for Jesus?

We need a spiritual awakening that opens our eyes to a future of a reconciled and just society. An unwavering faith in our omnipotent Creator can help us engage the political, social and spiritual upheaval we face.

We say, “Come, Lord Jesus,” but the question keeps echoing in my mind: Are we ready for Jesus?

To be ready for Jesus, we must be ready for disturbance. Christ says: Be born again! Get a renewed life! Letting Christ into our life disrupts our way of cozying up to the powers and avoiding the dispossessed. He causes us to see that we are Christian in word but not in deed. We try to please the powers of this world rather than God.

Acquiring renewed life — being born again — means changing deep-seated beliefs and behaviors that embrace hatred and injustice. That’s hard. But it is freeing. It gives life godly purpose.

Are you ready for Jesus?

John Powell, of Ypsilanti, Mich., has worked as a pastor, preacher and teacher in Mennonite churches and institutions.

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