It’s been a few days since the tragic atrocities in Charlottesville. I’ve been pondering these events and just wanted to share a few thoughts. I’m not sure they’ll be in any particular order. I’m just typing them as they come.
- For any one person or group of people to place their race, origin, color, nationality, or status above another’s is completely out of line with the character of Christ. This is something that even the Apostle Peter needed to have his eyes opened too: “I see now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism.” (Acts 10:34)
- Lament the fight before fighting the fight. Most of us are better at being angry than we are at being sad. In fact, many of us are so unwilling to face sadness that we will often use anger to mask it: “I’m not sure I know how to be sad, but I sure know how to be angry. Let’s do this!” We’re far too willing to be angry over sin in our world but less willing to lament over it. As followers of Jesus, we must lament the sin in our world. We must cry over the injustice and the hurt and the pain. In our hearts we hunger for the perfect peace of heaven but we are force-fed a daily diet of this war zone called earth. We must ask the question that David asked in Psalm 35:17 … “How long, oh Lord?” Romans 8:21 reminds us that all “creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.” Cry out with the rest of creation at the pain and the brokenness and the impact of sin all around us. “Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)
- We need to feel sad before we feel angry, but that doesn’t mean we cannot feel angry. I believe we can use anger as a motivation for good. While it’s not wise to waste your energy getting all upset about the everyday little frustrations of life, it is wise to be angry over the stuff that really matters. If you hear a racial slur, if you see a man or woman being devalued … if things like that stir up anger inside of you, I say let it stir. If those types of things burden you, then you need to feel the weight of that burden because when a burden for something different becomes greater than our willingness to live with the status quo, that’s usually when we take action.
- In Nehemiah chapter 2 we read that Nehemiah is burdened to rebuild the protective wall around Jerusalem. As he examines the wall, he finds that it is in worse shape than he ever imagined! And, not only is the wall in bad shape, but people are coming to him and saying, “If you start to rebuild this wall, there is going to be trouble. We are going to come after you ... we are going to hurt you!” But, none of this scares him away. There’s actually a time later in the book of Nehemiah when he says, “Should a man like me run away … I will not go!” (Nehemiah 6:11) Fear typically stands between us doing and not doing. The best of us will be rendered useless if fear has its way. Courage requires that we not run away but rather run toward the problems. And, the truth of the Gospel empowers us to do so.
- Even if you do not know what to do, at least acknowledging what has happened can feel supportive to someone. I’m obviously white. I don’t think my friends of color are expecting me to have all the answers, but I think they can rightly expect me to at least acknowledge that when something like Charlottesville happens, something is drastically wrong.
- The Gospel gives us a clear calling to move toward the hated and the haters. Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you … He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good.” (Matthew 5:44-45). The Apostle Peter tells us to “Respect everyone.” (1 Peter 2:17) The Apostle Paul reminds us that “God demonstrated His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
These are just some random, late night reflections. I certainly do not have all the answers, but I do want to help be part of the solution. That starts in my heart … allowing it to be broken … allowing God to help me see what He sees … trusting that He will enable me to stand beside those being mistreated and empower us all to take steps together toward healing.