On Sunday at Calvary I shared some immediate, honest thoughts about the violence and violent interactions we witnessed in Charlottesville over the weekend. For those who were not present, or for those wishing to give this some further thought, I am including a few brief remarks here as well.
First, as someone who loves the city of Charlottesville, as it has been one of our favorite weekend getaway destinations over the past five years, I am sorry the people of that city bore the brunt of last weekend’s violence. It was a sad time for their city, and a sad time for our nation. Our hearts and prayers are with those who experienced these events most personally and vividly.
On Sunday at Calvary I asked the question “What is our responsibility upon events such as these?”
1. I believe we are to identify and call out sin and evil as it exists in the world. Racism emerges in a public way from time to time in the life of our country. Rather than seeing this as something new, we are saddened to see that something old and persistent is still very present among us. It seems that those with certain racist beliefs have determined to gather publicly and loudly at this time.
As Christians, we hold that the gospel of Christ makes no room for this type of distinction. All people, the world over, are people for whom Christ willingly gave his life. It is sinful pride to believe that any group or class of people has authority or power over another. All people have been created in the image of a loving, rich, and generous God who has show himself to be the God of not one tribe, race, or class, but of all people.
For this reason, we call out and denounce any group or movement that attempts to devalue or undermine the dignity and worthiness of any other person. Movements based on principles contrary to these truths, such as the KKK, Neo-Nazi’s, or white supremacists have no place among us.
2. As we give voice to what is good and right, and call out injustice and evil, we are also called to stand alongside those who are anxious or fearful because of words spoken against them. Christian community is meant to bring healing to a broken world and much of that good work is lifting one another up during difficult days, and speaking healing, gracious words in times of sadness. We may, or may not, feel personally attacked by the gathering that took place this weekend in Charlottesville, but we are called to come alongside those who do feel the emotional burden of these words and actions.
3. We are constantly called to examine our own hearts to root out any forms of racism or bigotry that may live there. Scripture reminds us that we there is an old evil foe who wishes to divide us one against another, and separate us from the love of God. Pride and sin creep easily into our hearts causing us to believe, in a great variety of ways, that we are better than our neighbor. We tend towards judgmentalism, selfishness, and greed, when we are called to follow the Lord of love, mercy, and compassion.
Let us examine our own hearts and confess before God that we might also become better neighbors, family members, friends, and members of the body of Christ that might lift one another up from the despair and challenges of this world. May we pray God would give us wisdom and discernment as we speak and work for justice in the midst of brokenness and sin.
And finally, may we ask the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ to teach us always to love mercy, act justly, and walk humbly with our God.