Spiritual

Becoming a “Bleeding Heart Christian” and Other Perils of Radical Love

By: Jana Greene

This is an article I need to write. I’ve been needing to write it for years, but haven’t had the courage to “come out,” lest I disappoint friends and family. And that itself is sad, from my current vantage point, but we too often inherit our political beliefs and sit on them like the goose who laid the golden egg.
But I can sit on it no longer. The egg is rotten.
I’m finding it disturbing which issues are falling down party lines lately. Things that should just be a HUMAN thing are becoming a political thing.
Us vs. them. Right vs. wrong. Enough already.

Something shifted in me years ago and I can’t dance around the really hard issues anymore. It started when it became apparent that my daughter in her late teens was becoming a *GASP* LIBERAL. I couldn’t believe it! My far-right heart was in despair! But one day when I picked my girls up from school and we enjoyed one of our many spirited (ha) conversations about current events, I made a snarky remark offhandedly that she was becoming a “bleeding heart liberal.”
To which my kid, who was brought up in the evangelical church but professed no religion, says:
“But Mom, didn’t Jesus’ heart bleed for other people? The disadvantaged and marginalized?” (And yes, those are the actual words she used, she’s a smart kid.)

And I sat there and stewed in my judginess for the rest of the ride home. I was SO offended! I thought I had it all figured out.

Welfare: Get a damn job already. Why should I work and someone else get my money?

Death penalty: Stop wasting taxpayer money and just do it.

Immigration: Take a number like everyone else and wait your turn.

For the rest of the day and even for weeks after, I couldn’t shake the question. It became clear that I had gotten to the point I was using my religion not to help people, but to help me decide who was worthy! There are a myriad of other things I had “strong feelings” about before my spiritual reconstruction and could justify by political lines. Then it gradually became clear to me that Jesus didn’t let politics get in the way of loving people. Not once.

Our hearts SHOULD hurt that we have been propping up politicians and giving them all the power in the world to decide what is morally acceptable. Because none of them are Jesus. Many of them shouldn’t even be in office. And some things should not be partisan.

And so a paradigm shift began. “Break my heart for what breaks your heart, God,” I prayed on my knees.

And here’s the thing: My heart didn’t break for the rich and privileged. Or the justly treated. Or the Christian who darkened the door every time it was open. No. Instead my thinking became:

Feed the poor, without holding back. Without a superiority complex. Quietly.

Welcome the immigrant who is fleeing violence. And for God’s literal sake, uncage the children. What have we become?

Against abortion? Me too. But mothers need help to care for the children who we insist they carry and raise. And if a mother chooses to abort, we have to find it in our hearts to be compassionate to them, too.

Speak out for justice for George Floyd, the gentle giant who had the life choked out of him by a cop. It is happening to untold others. This cannot be. A man murdered slowly in broad daylight by someone by means of an abuse of power.

Stand with the oppressed, including our African American friends. Because black lives DO matter. Oh how my heart ached for Mr. Floyd as he was calling for his mama with his dying breath! You might even say it bled.

I unequivocally understand that there are reasons of law and plain old practicality that require order. Nobody disputes that. But Jesus was less concerned about law than human beings. I just want to emulate Jesus. And Jesus loved on everyone, whether or not they had the right values. He saved his harshest words for people who thought they were better than everyone else. The ultra-religious.

My previous and inherited belief system was wrong for me. It was unintentional.
But I won’t make the mistake of hardening my heart that should rightfully break for hurting people. No more. I want to love them intentionally.

Lobby and vote and all the rest, but don’t wait around for a bunch of rich old white men to get the ball rolling. It starts with you and I, in our words, deeds, and actions. No two party system can separate us from the love of Christ, and no politician should have the power to separate us from one another.

So don’t fight it; go ahead and let your heart bleed when you see racism and discrimination. Cry for the refugee. Let a little seep out for the victims, the underprivileged; the addicted and the homeless. Please. Let it gush!

Pray the most surrendering of all prayers – “God, break my heart for what breaks yours.” It may start a flood, but you’ll never be the same. And that’s not always a bad thing.

There is liberation in that release.

5 thoughts on “Becoming a “Bleeding Heart Christian” and Other Perils of Radical Love”

  1. Thank you for your courage, honesty, and vulnerability. Too often, in my experience, the visceral reaction of white evangelicals to discussions of racial injustice is to become defensive, quickly state that they are not racist, and then proceed to blame the victims, defend those who perpetrate harm against the victims in the name of law and order, and proclaim their support of a system and culture that supports and continues to protect and serve people like me (white and male) while suppressing, oppressing, and killing our brown and black neighbors. In recent days, it appears that the hearts and eyes of an increasing number of white Christians are beginning to open up to what is and has been happening in our country for far too long. I hope and pray that this is indeed true and that this is a beginning of a new movement and perhaps era where Christ’s Church once again stands with and includes those in our country and world who have been viewed and treated as less than God’s fellow image bearers based solely on the color of their skin and gender. May we as white evangelical Christians view and treat all human life as sacred and not just the unborn.

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  2. Reblogged this on Journey Toward Shalom and commented:
    This post by Jana should be read by any white evangelical Chrisitian questioning what they are or should be doing during these times of so much unrest and calls for justice in light of the death/kiling of George Floyd and countless other Africian Americans in the U.S.

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  3. Break my heart for what breaks your heart! That was beautiful! I remember the days when I was a card-carrying Republican and believed all of those Republican dainties. I’m proud to have a bleeding heart now. It’s how we finish that counts, not how we started!

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