Posted by Daniel José Camacho
In the spirit of Upworthy/Humans-esqe hagiography:
Two street evangelists sat next to each other on the subway. One asked: “Excuse me, do you have a personal relationship with God?” The other responded:
“Let me ask you: do you have a structural relationship with God? Have you accepted Jesus Christ into your neighborhood as your stranger, as the one who is hungry, sick, and imprisoned?1 If not, it’s never too late because God has a wonderful plan for this world.2 Many people today have a personal relationship or spirituality with God but lack religion.3 Faith ends up being an emotional concert or theoretical equation that does little to change the concrete circumstances of the orphans and widows who are distressed around us. Seeking personal prosperity or productivity/stress-relief via some form of mediation, many personal-relationships-with-God fall neatly into the patterns of our world’s consumption. In America, communities are segregated by race, finances separated by those in debt and those who profit from debt, but personal Jesuses are evenly distributed and mostly keep everything in place.
You should consider having a structural relationship with God. What if God cares not just about your personal heart but your community’s physical hearts, like the kind of hearts impacted by a neighborhood crowded with WacArnolds yet lacking healthy, affordable options? Having a truly structural relationship with God doesn’t allow us to talk about freedom, freedom from personal addictions for example, without including freedom for those brutalized by police and oppressed by immigration laws and the criminal justice system.4
Does your God care about everything that’s happening in the world? There are powers and principalities in this world and unless you have a structural relationship with God, you won’t detect them. I’m not sure how you can ignore, and sometimes even benefit from, the violence and inequality of our country and still consider yourself personal friends with God.5
It’s never too late to change. Accept Jesus into your society. Begin by looking at the least desirable people.”6