A friend kindly handed it to me after church last Sunday. It was a simple exchange, completely unnoticed by others. While I agree with what it represents I know what may happen should I choose to wear it. Liberal, too political, unrealistic, gullible, bleeding heart, are just some of the monikers that could be thrown my way. Assumptions could be made about me, maybe none of which would have anything to do with my understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. Do I really want to bring that upon myself? Over a safety pin?
Attached was a note explaining its significance. It said, I wear a safety pin to show that anyone threatened by hate and fear can know that I care and will do all I can to combat it. That seems to align pretty closely with Jesus, right? Jesus stood with those who were despised and rejected, and spoke often about his vision of God’s kingdom where all would be gathered in to experience the love and grace of a merciful Creator.
And Jesus always seemed to be talking about caring for “the least of these,” meaning the ones who couldn’t fend for themselves, those on the outermost perimeter of society, the hungry, the poor, the homeless, the stranger. There were plenty of folks in Jesus’ day who fought ferociously to exclude these groups, all the while propagating a message of fear and hate that had a way of resonating with the general public. But Jesus said that whenever mercy was extended to someone in need it was being done also to him. The reverse was also true. If care was withheld it was also being withheld from Jesus. That’s a strong statement that could have the power to propel one into some pretty deep soul searching.
So a safety pin could be a meaningful metaphor for faithful discipleship. If I wore it on my lapel, or even on my stole (which signifies that I am yoked to Christ in service to others), would you be cool with it? Would you connect it – as it’s intended – to faithful discipleship, and as an outward sign that I am trying to do what Jesus commands even if it might not be the popular thing to do? Would you respect my decision to visibly remind myself and others that I feel called to live out the good news of Jesus Christ by speaking a message of love and hope and acceptance? Would you take it as it’s intended and not attach any other baggage to it?
I mean really, truly, sincerely, would you? Seriously. I hope so.