The multi cultural artists I work closely with are rising up with questions concerning colonialism and desiring the true freedom of those who feel they were force-fed white man’s culture, which included Jesus. They were stripped of their way of life, and left in barrenness. For myself, I’ll never forget watching the travelling show, Treaty 7. My heart broke to watch on the stage what my forefathers did to the indigenous of our land. I am now learning this has not just happened in Canada, but in the Philippines and all over the world as well. In the name of Jesus, many in the past and present have done horrible things to others.
The indigenous people of my nation have experienced inter-racial trauma. To this day, they still feel they are government property. There is now a whole generation who feels misplaced – orphaned. They desire reconciliation through inclusion, and restoration of the life they had before it was stolen. Many other countries are experiencing the same uprising through young people who are saying to their government and people, “This stops with US”. We will no longer be held in chains or controlled. There is a cry for decolonization and freedom of all people.
Man has failed the message of the cross, but the good news is that what Jesus truly started has continued underground throughout the ages and even through the brokenness of man’s heart. Those who are awake will see the truth of what was truly finished that day.
There are a couple of stumbling blocks people have experienced regarding Jesus, the first being a “personal Savior”. For many years I have heard a sales pitch: Jesus came to die for your sins. If you declare him as your personal savior, you can be forgiven and go to heaven when you die. If that’s all it’s about, then that’s a cheap gospel. What was done at the cross was for me, but doesn’t end with just me. Any ideology or religion founded on individualism is shaky ground.
The second stumbling block people have faced is the tension of those who think the world of Jesus, but struggle with church because today’s church in many ways has become a sub culture rather than the life-giving community it was intended to be. There are common language and practices needing to be learned by outsiders if they want to feel true inclusion. This brings some back to the times they felt they had to conform to become a part of our culture. Some may feel the familiarity of colonialism and want no part. People want to experience an expression of Jesus that feels like the real him. They want to know there is still room for their customs and cultural practices that may not look familiar, but could add to the rich expression of diversity the Kingdom of God invites.
I’ve wrestled with these as well and have converted from the ideology of Christianity to simply following Jesus. The Jesus I follow destroys dividing walls that separate anyone from the love of the Father/Creator. He breaks dividing walls between people and nations and says, “ALL are welcome at the table.” He doesn’t impose himself or overthrow cultures. Instead, he binds up the brokenness humanity has caused. He takes hold of the captive and declares they are free in him. He reaches into their trauma and breaks the chains that hold them. He has defeated death and has taken the keys of slavery and purchased freedom. He reaches into those who have felt misplaced and orphaned and says, “Welcome Home.” He reconciles those who were pushed away and says to them, “You belong.” He takes those who deserve punishment and brings them closer in forgiveness and newness of life. He takes what has been devastated for generations and rebuilds something new and glorious. He gathers those whose lives have turned to ashes and gives them a crown of glory instead. He renames them: strong, mighty, and beloved.
He rises up from the ashes of the ground and declares “My resurrection is also your resurrection!” This speaks of rebirth, the old being gone the new arising in us, but also the hope that one day we will see this fully realized with a new heaven and a new earth void of pain and desolation.
Those who follow Jesus are called to join him in this work of restoration by binding wounds, working in the restoration of all things. This is why colonialism, slavery, racism, poverty, bullying, and mental health need to matter to those who say they love God. We do this together. This is the way of the cross: the joining with others in this this work through holistic community where we come to the table to eat and celebrate together with Jesus at the centre. There is diversity at the table so there is also learning how to honour and serve others with humility. At the table, we lay down our life for one another as Jesus laid down his life for us.
Easter finished this for ALL to experience. You are welcome at the table.
Image by @jhvestudios