Dear Christian Friends,

I see you. I hear you. I love you. Lastly, I need you.

I see you loving your God and trying to create a life that reflects not only your faith in God, but your belief in your own ability to create change in the world out of that faith. I see the work you do in the community with that God and that faith holding you up as you do. Your love and your work amaze me on a daily basis and humble me.

I see you reading and studying your Bible, looking for meaning and praying it will be delivered to you in ways that make sense of the life before you. I’m so grateful that you have this to guide you and that you surround yourself with others who also wish to help you grow in your faith.

I hear you when you say you love Jesus and when you pray to Him to guide you — and even me. I can hear in your voice that that love is important to you and it has helped you love a wretch like me. Thank you. I hear you, and I don’t take this for granted.

I love you, too. I love that you pray for me, to me, about me. It doesn’t matter much to me what you are praying; I know it is an expression of your love and that is all that matters to me. So, again, thank you. I do not take this in vain.

But I need you, now, dear friends. I need you to do much more than pray for me, for our country, for our troops, for this world. I need you to honestly assess our country and our world — our larger community — and I need you to consider, for real, What Would Your Jesus Do?

I’m not mocking. I used to mock that phrase. I used to be a jerk. (Okay, despite your praying, I am still quite often a jerk, but I’m not THAT jerk anymore.) But as I was in bed a few minutes ago, not sleeping as I listened for the storm that is about to hit, ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ kept worming its’ way through my head and then into my heart. And I wondered, do you think this, too?

I’m thinking about your Bible and the words that are attributed to Jesus and what their message really says in times like these and it really has me wondering: What Would Jesus Do? and who could he support in this American election cycle.

I love you, friends, and I need you. We all need you. We need you to center this question for yourself and not let me or anyone else tell you what it means for you, exactly. (A minister or other religious leader who tells you what to do rather than inviting you in to consider it yourself is not following Jesus’s lead, by the way, but that’s another story I’ll save for later.)

I know you are concerned for your soul and the soul of others. I know you may have been told that homosexuality and anything that has anything to do with gender that doesn’t include men being men and in charge and women being submissive to their men is a sin. I understand this is what you have been told. But I need you to do some serious work with Jesus on these issues because people are being killed for being gay, for being transsexual, for being in a category that doesn’t fit into the either/or-ness of the binary that you believe God created.

Do you know where else people are being killed? Everywhere. Everywhere there are guns. And some of them are being killed more readily and under the auspices of authority simply because their skin is dark and our world sees black and brown skin as dangerous, whether there is a gun in that hand or not.

Do you think Jesus cares that 18 children with access to guns have killed parents or siblings accidentally in the U.S. this year alone (it is only February, my friends). I do. And that’s just the smallest fraction of a fraction of the deaths in this country caused by people who have access to guns. People who shouldn’t, but do. People who can because we have let factions of our shared community overtake common sense in how access is granted.

Do you know where else people are being killed? In cities and towns throughout the world where weather patterns have shifted and caused earthquakes, tsunamis, drought, hurricanes, typhoons and just general bad, bad weather. We did this. God didn’t. We did. And we did it with science both good and bad. God gave us brains and we have used them both to our benefit and our detriment. Let’s acknowledge science and use it to help ease the burden on our shared home and the people who live upon it who don’t have easy access to food, shelter, water.

Speaking of water, do I need to? Do I need to point to Flint, Michigan and all the other places in our country and in this world where water has been made poison by the greed of a few? Do I need to? What Would Jesus Do? Send bottled water? Or flip the tables of the oligarchy that have manipulated markets and us to create a hell on earth undeserved by the least of these.

What Would Jesus Do is an honest and honorable question and I need you to search your hearts in this moment in history. Ask yourself what would you do with your love of God and the gospel of Jesus to make sure that this world knows the love you hold that is greater than any.

Would you elect a man to lead our nation who holds the lives of others in great disdain or would you look for the leader who has the Samaritan’s heart? There are good people in our government — in both parties. There are good people in the Christian faith. But there are a lot of people who confound doing what is right with what is good. And right now, my friends, we need people to do what is good — good for our country and our relationships with the wider world; good for the citizens who live in this country and whose lives depend upon clean water, strong infrastructure, and a government that works; good for the earth so that we may continue to live well while looking out for our neighbors.

My dear Christian friends, I know you love me. Even with my sinner’s heart and sailor’s mouth, you see in me the spark of the divine, you see in me what you think God sees in me. I’m asking for your help in extending that love to others who don’t look or live or love or even pray like me or you.

I love you, dear Christian friends, and I know you love me. I know we can work together to do good things. I know I don’t identify as Christian and I know that weighs on your heart; but I do believe that the Jesus who said those things about sinners and neighbors and love meant them and that I aspire to be that kind of person here on earth. Will you help me?

With love,