Faith In Action (FIA) is a national community organizing network that gives people of faith the tools they need to fight for justice and work towards a more equitable society.
The leaders of the network have defined our current time as a time marked by a fourfold crisis: medical / health care, economic, political and moral.
In the face of this fourfold crisis, FIA affiliates are being urged to organize and advocate for governmental policies at the local, state and national levels that will bring relief to suffering communities, help them to recover, and ultimately aid in the re-construction of more just society.
One does not have to be connected directly to FIA to find the description of the fourfold crisis to be accurate and the three-step process of relief, recovery and re-construction to be instructive.
While affirming these, it is important to understand the unique ways in which analysis and action come from, and are enacted by, faith communities.
While faith communities are not the only sources of insightful analysis and meaningful action, we bring histories, traditions, perspectives, values, stories and connections to the work that others do not. This is particularly true of our response to the current pandemic.
Other communities – scientific, academic, business and political – are often better versed in the science, economics, logistics, delivery systems and political strategies that will help us face the current crises.
However, faith communities, Christian and non-Christian alike, bring needed gifts to the table in ways that are beautiful, inspiring and enduring. We bring values to the work in ways that are unique and powerful.
In the soaring teaching that is 1 Corinthians 13, Paul reminds us that, as followers of the Christ, we bring three gifts to the table in every situation: the gifts of faith, hope and love.
These gifts are not commodities we have acquired. Rather, they are actions that shape our being and thus benefit the communities in which we live and the partners with whom we labor.
We do faith. We do hope. We do love.
These are our central identities, our highest calls, our unique contributions to our communities as we respond together to the health care crisis, the economic crisis, the political crisis and the moral crisis that is upon us.
The words of Peter, recorded in the Book of Acts, to the paralytic outside the Temple in Jerusalem are fitting, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you.”
We do faith.
Longtime Baptist leader Bob Tiller suggests that is better of speak of “faithing” than having faith.
He writes, “Faithing means trying to follow the example and teachings of Jesus, trying to grow in discipleship. Faithing means attempting to live each day with values that embrace the sacredness of all creation.”
We do hope.
We respond to the suffering of the world not with the explanations like, “Even though we don’t understand it, God allowed COVID-19 to beset us. Everything happens for a reason,” but with the hope that God will work through us to squeeze good out of the crisis. We do hope by sharing a vision of re-creation.
We do love.
We do so by demanding that Immigration and Customs Enforcement enact policies that protects its detainees and its employees from the coronavirus.
We do love in private ways as one member of our congregation did – by making 50 face masks and riding her bike three miles one evening to distribute them to people gathered in the parking lot of a local church where homeless families are invited to park, have a meal, take a shower and sleep in their cars.
We live in a time of crisis – medical, economic, political and moral.
We have resources that enable relief, recovery and reconstruction. We have gifts that are uniquely ours to offer – faithing, hoping and loving.
Senior pastor of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church in Oakland, California, since 1989, and a board member of BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty).