There is this sign in the town where I lived for many years saying, “Americans Need to Get Right with God”. It may surprise you when I say that I agree with this. Hold off on the torches and pitchforks for a minute and let me explain.
First, let me explain what I think this person means with the sign and say that I do not agree with that. This person likely means that we should be a ‘Christian’ nation, return to ‘traditional’ marriage, and kick all the LGBT people out of the country. I think this person doesn’t understand what being right with God actually means. Hint, it isn’t hate and oppression.
What does God ask of us? To treat others with respect. I know it sounds odd, but there are lots of times when that is what they, very explicitly, tell people they want. As way of an example, I’m going to try an update to the Good Samaritan. Sadly, it is horribly misunderstood. Anyway, here goes.
You’re driving along 81 and suddenly your car doesn’t feel right and is making an odd sound. You pull off to the side of the road and get out. Your rear driver-side tire is flat. You have no spare and no Fix-a-Flat. Your phone, you remember, is sitting on your kitchen table, so you try to flag someone down. There’s not a lot of traffic, but you see a Mercedes coming up fast. You try to flag it down, but the congress critter driving it doesn’t care and speeds on by. You wait a few minutes and you spot another car coming. The driver is wearing a dog collar, so your hopes rise. Surely, a priest will aide you, and you try to flag him down. And, he speeds on by. A few more minutes go by and another car is coming. You flag the driver down and to your shock and horror, a young black man wearing a hoodie steps out. He calls for a tow truck and pays for the tow and a new tire and runs off before you can pay him.
Now, which one of these guys acted most in accord with God’s will? I think we’d all agree that it’s the modern Samaritan, the young black man. Why? Because, even though he is looked down upon by most, he stops and helps his neighbor. You see this in both the Old and New Testaments. God elevates those who are poor, hated, or unwell because they take the time to help others. Kindness, even that done by non Jews, is rewarded. Reminds me a bit of the Sodom and Gomorrah story. The reason these cities are destroyed isn’t because they are filled with gay men. And it doesn’t have to do with the angels being angels. It is all about how foreigners were treated. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah were know to treat foreigners poorly. The reason they wanted to rape the angels was to show power over them and humiliate them.
So, with all this said, what do I think it means to get right with God? It means speaking out about any and all kinds of oppression. Working towards justice for all. Treat everyone with respect and kindness. Help one another without counting the cost.