The struggle is real

Today, even after this historic and just Supreme Court ruling we get up and keep calling for justice, preaching a gospel of peace, sounding a prophetic cry.

By Amy Butler

It has of late become the newest and most frequent lament of the oppressed in my household: “The struggle is real!”

If I were to say to one of my teenage kids: “Please put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher before you watch TV,” there might be dramatic eye rolling accompanied by the exasperated exclamation, “The struggle is real!”

Or, on the way out the back door to take the garbage out one might overhear “the struggle is real!” muttered under a breath in true outrage at the injustice of it all.

Life is hard. There’s no doubt about it. And they’re right: the struggle is real, though the exclamation is probably more appropriate in situations other than household chores -- like rampant injustice and blatant roadblocks to the radical expression of God’s love in this world.

It is part of the church’s mission to boldly name these injustices, work tirelessly and speak prophetically to right them. And the struggle is real. Most days it feels that we live in between the now and the not-yet, as the Apostle Paul talked about all the time, balancing a fine line between a restless dissatisfaction with the way things are and prophetic vision-casting for the way things should be.

This uneasy state of affairs is just life for people of faith, for as followers of the radical struggler Jesus we should live longing for a world of justice and peace and working to make things right.

On the days when we see progress it often feels incremental or insignificant: one hungry person fed, one law-maker lobbied; one child tutored. With this state of affairs and our calling as radical Jesus followers to speak a prophetic and hope-filled word into our broken world, it’s easy to get discouraged when the progress seems so slow.

Yesterday was a day, however, in which we did not get discouraged. The Supreme Court of the United States struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters the same civil rights held by everybody else in society.

And while many voices speaking on behalf of the church as a whole spewed vitriol and hatred and used the claim of divine endorsement to support of legislation that perpetuated hatred and injustice in our country, there were also many people of faith with courage and conviction who stood up to say that God calls us to a higher standard: to love justice, to do kindness, and to walk humbly with God.

For just a few moments yesterday we could see it: justice rolling down like waters and a new dawn beginning to break. Not a world headed toward eternal damnation as some would have us believe, but a world still thrumming with possibility and promise, hope for the in-breaking of God’s kingdom in real and tangible ways.

In a time when profound moments like these are desperately few and far-between, we hear the momentous news from the Supreme Court yesterday and we cry tears of amazement and thanksgiving.

As people of faith we ring the bells from the top of the steeple long and loud for the whole world to hear. This is a moment in which God’s best hopes and dreams for us are actually, finally, finding prominent and public expression.

But that was yesterday. And, as we know, God is always at work doing a new thing, ever creating new possibilities and redeeming a world in desperate need. As people of faith we are called to keep pushing, to keep declaring truth with courage and conviction, to keep voices strong for justice and reconciliation and peace.

Yesterday we rang the bells, but today we get up and start again. How can we rest in a world so broken and hate-filled when the call of Jesus pushes us ever onward?

Because as followers of the one who gave his life to usher in the kingdom of God, we of all people should know: the struggle is real!

OPINION: Views expressed in Baptist News Global columns and commentaries are solely those of the authors.