Another week of violence in our country has made me think more deeply about the Black/Blue/All Lives Matter movements, and I have come to the realization that each contains implicit exceptions which result in limited effectiveness. Lives are certainly qualified and given value, but nobody is playing on a level field. For example, it’s implied (maybe even openly stated) that the lives of criminals don’t matter as much, if at all, as the lives of police officers. And though I’ve heard supporters of Black Lives Matter say that all lives do indeed matter, what is implied is that right now black lives should receive more attention. If you talk to those who believe All Lives Matter, and you drill down far enough, you will discover that “all lives” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and it’s really not that inclusive at all. Of course all lives matter… with the following EXCEPTIONS that I’m sure you’ll understand.
No one I’ve heard or read so far has had the courage to throw Jesus into the equation, so what would happen if we asked whose lives mattered to Jesus? Well, the gospels bear a very clear witness. Lives that mattered to Jesus include, but are not limited to, the following: sinners, whores, adulterers, cheaters, unclean people, beggars, losers, widows, orphans, soldiers, criminals, crooks, street urchins, lepers, the blind, the lame, the deaf and dumb, the poor, the disenfranchised, the oppressed, and the broken. These lives mattered to Jesus because he saw each and every one as a child of God, created in God’s image, valuable in God’s sight, and never beyond redemption.
But we don’t talk much (if at all) about these lives mattering. Maybe some of us do in our own little circle of friends, but certainly not in public because there’s too much to lose (like our friends, family members, and co-workers; not to mention our credibility as intelligent human beings capable of clear thought). If they don’t already, people would think we Christians were a bunch of religious fanatics, undeserving of a place in any serious discussion.
It’s scary to think about what Jesus would say about whose lives mattered today. Illegal immigrants? Refugees? Rioters, looters, and rock throwers? Police officers who have shot other human beings in the line of duty? Dangerous criminals? Muslims? Radical Islamists? Gangsters? Heroin users? Kneelers or fist raisers during the National Anthem? Flag burners? Cop killers? It’s a slippery slope, isn’t it? I could envision Jesus breaking bread with any or all of the above because that’s pretty much what he did 2,000 years ago, but are any of US ready to say that any of THESE lives truly matter? Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. How can we even begin to TRY to do that if we don’t believe their lives matter in the first place? So what are we to do? Just sweep away into some dark corner all that stuff Jesus says about loving the unlovable, and then carry on hoping our self-proclaimed exceptions will go unnoticed? We can, if we don’t want to take our faith seriously, which is just fine for some people.
I may be crazy or naive or idealistic (and I don’t care if that’s what anyone thinks), but it seems to me that until we embrace and employ the radical love of Jesus WITHOUT EXCEPTION, we will continue indefinitely to be stuck in a very disturbing cycle of violence.