There are lots of people I don't feel like I have a place to speak to. I haven't lived in their shoes.
Not you white evangelical.
I once considered myself a part of your tribe. That membership has eroded over the years to a point of officially leaving the tribe, but that doesn't mean I still don't care about you and recognize the formation you had in my life. You helped make me who I am today.
That said, I have some words for you.
There used to be a group of people just like you. They considered their religion a badge. They were very moral and they considered morality to be something very important for their culture, for the culture, and for their fellow human beings. They stood for justice and law and, of course, mercy - when convenient. Usually for them.
The thing with this group of people is that they wanted power and money and control. And so they aligned themselves with a military superpower that had lots of it. Of course, the military superpower had issues (as all do) but the military superpower had power, money, and control (as all do) and they were wiling to give some of that power, money, and control away for allegiance (as all do). Under normal circumstances these issues are pretty big. Under normal circumstances these issues are the antithesis of everything that group of people and their religion stood for. You wouldn't expect allegiance.
But, the group of people overlooked the problems and called them "flaws". Flaws like slavery, murder and oppression of entire groups of people. Serious issues are just small flaws when power, money, and control are being offered for allegiance to a military superpower.
In a nutshell, there used to be a group of people just like about 4 out of 5 of you.
And Jesus said all kinds of things to this group of people but maybe this is the most surprising: You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
These words are fairly terrifying. I think about them quite a bit and I wonder if I am that person. Do I think I'm doing great work for the Kingdom of God and, actually, doing the opposite? I struggle with that on a weekly, if not daily, basis. I don't want to be that wrong and believe I'm that right.
The group of people just like you, didn't like being called Sons of Hell - as I imagine you don't. And so they aligned themselves with the military superpower with all the money, power, and control and they killed Jesus to stop him from saying other mean things like that. And he did stop. Killing usually works short term. Jesus later rose but he didn't say any more mean things to them because they wouldn't listen anyway.
I believe this story. Not because it's in the Bible but because it's happening today. Everything Jesus stood for is being murdered because of money, power, and control and allegiance to a military superpower.
I'm not saying you're a son of Hell. Or a daughter. I'm not saying you're killing Jesus. I am saying that you might be. And I might be. And if you don't spend some time thinking about the implications of those truths, I'm afraid that Jesus might have some other words for you and me.
Please get away. I never knew you.
PS: I realize this is Veterans Day. I acknowledge many people have suffered much pain at the hands of a military superpower and serving a military superpower and I wish love and peace and grace and healing on every man and woman that has. I appreciate them as human beings and I treasure them for who they are.