I am not woke because I never went to sleep. My faith wouldn’t allow me.
As a follower of Christ, it is His principles that I try to follow. That is my desire. Imperfectly, yes, failing often. Sometimes distracted and caught up in the challenges of life, but it is my most passionate goal.
My Faith Showed Me the Needs of Others
One thing God has never allowed me to stay blind to is the needs of others. At least, not for long. Our eyes need to be open to see those who are hurting. To care for, defend, and honor one another without reservation or qualification.
My teen years first ignited my passion for civil rights before my faith became the catalyst of my choices. My heart hurt for the inequity that I saw based on the color of our skin. It was a heartbreaking revelation to me as a girl who grew up in a small town in Indiana with an almost exclusively white population.
An English class assignment led me to the library, where I often found life outside of the world I resided—choosing a book written by John Howard Griffin, a courageous white journalist who stepped out of the comfort of his world. He spent many months in the South, having taken on the appearance of a Black man in the days of segregation, to gain an understanding of the inequality and suffering. As I gave the oral book report, tears ran down my face, my heart forever changed by this work.
After that, it became inexcusable to me that the true beauty of our uniqueness could cause division between races. It still is today. It also caused me to step into the battle in whatever way a 16-year-old white girl could.
I Learned to See the Lost and Hurting Through God’s Eyes
In my early 20s, I determined to change my life, to get off the road of confusion. I was living in rebellion against everything I knew, running headlong into a destructive lifestyle that was robbing me of all that was good. As in everything I do, my change was extreme. Realizing I didn’t want to continue as I was, I joined a commune with others of my faith seeking to find their way as well.
It was there I developed a deeper understanding of the hurting, the lost, and the lonely. We took in runaways and homeless individuals who came from all places in life with every kind of struggle known to humanity. We housed hurts big and small, including those who were mentally unstable or sexually confused—even 15-year-old prostitutes. It wasn’t easy, and I saw things I had never seen before. But I learned in real life that God was a God for all. There was no circumstance too broken for Him to fix, no individual too far for Him to reach, nothing and no one was beyond hope.
I no longer viewed those we took in from a distance. Instead, these were people we learned to see through God’s eyes. It was our responsibility and joy to offer grace and compassion. To love them exactly where they were, as I had been as well. It was in that season He provided the framework for loving others.
Life in the commune also allowed me to immerse myself in His Word for the first time. Not just picking a verse to quote or memorize but digging deep into His account of humanity. His compassionate actions are spelled out within the 66 books, starting in Genesis when heartbreak began and concluding in the book of Revelation with the promise that pain will one day end. As I studied, it was no longer just an emotion or empathy within me that said I should remain awake to the needs of others. It was what was His Word told me I needed to do. And how I needed to do it.
There is no circumstance too broken for Him to fix, no individual too far for Him to reach, nothing and no one is beyond hope.
We Are All Equal in Worth
From the very beginning, He left no doubt that we are equal in every way. We were all created in His image, no exceptions, no deviations. “So, God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God, he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
Gender, race, nationality, or life position are not dividers in God’s view of us.
“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
He chose to make us individually magnificent. We should celebrate the differences in us, not view them with disdain or condescension which opens the door for division. Our skin color, the texture of our hair, the features of our face and frame, our talents and characteristics—they make each of us unique. And lovely. Different but equal in beauty, purpose, and above all, equal in worth.
He also instructed His children to stand in the gap, to provide for the needs of others. In Isaiah 41:17, God makes it clear though that He first is the provider. “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.”
We Are to Be the Hands and Feet of Jesus
But what we must remember is His followers are to be the hands and feet of His provision. “For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me…when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (Matthew 25:34-40).
There is nothing in this text that disqualifies the one in need. There is no caveat created by our God that says care for all except those with whom we may feel uncomfortable. We can’t avoid people we don’t relate to or understand. And we shouldn’t. These verses do not allow us to look away even when we feel helpless. Instead, we need to step up and step in wherever we see a need, a hurting or broken heart.
Nor is there a requirement for us to be special to do it. It is not our place or position in life God wants to use to accomplish His purpose. He can and will use every one of us. “Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important” (1 Corinthians 1:26-28).
We can effectively fill a need, yet other times we are called to be a warrior. We must fight the cause of those who need defending as they battle to rise above circumstances. Fight with integrity and compassion. And as we join the fight, let’s remember it’s not other people we’re trying to combat.
The battle we wage for the hurting is not a battle between humans but a battle to elevate humans. We must recognize and identify the true enemy of all that is good and right. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). The war we are waging is, first and foremost, a spiritual one.
The harsh words and emotional jabs found throughout the conversation on all platforms are ones we should never be a part of. Strength and compassion, Grit and Grace, are required in this battle. Used effectively, they are tools that will win.
We must also understand that to be effective in caring for others, we must do it together. “I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose” (1 Corinthians 1:10). We are far less effective alone.
The battle we wage for the hurting is not a battle between humans but a battle to elevate humans.
I’m Not Woke Because My Faith Wouldn’t Allow Me to Fall Asleep
As part of God’s family, we are to remain vigilant to the needs of others. In my life, I didn’t fully embrace what I was to stand for until I fully embraced the God I serve. Not until I surrendered to Him to love me, lead me, and for me to love Him in return. Sometimes heart follows actions, but actions will always follow your heart.
You don’t have to be “woke” to understand there are needs to be met. But I do know that you have to stay awake to meet them. When the world’s focus changes as it always does, we, the family of God, must not forget our responsibility to stand in the gap. To care for those who need us. It always has been, always will be.
As Darlene has reminded us, every single person has value and worth. But sometimes we question that, even about ourselves. Hear from another of our writers who wants to remind you of how incredibly valuable and worthy that you are…