Like everyone I know, I am still horrified by the events in Virginia. And I do mean everyone I know - I am grateful that I do not personally know a single person who is not angry and appalled by what the group called "Alt Right" stands for. The viewpoint they express is vile and despicable. Especially despicable to me is that fact that they claim to be "Christians". I lack the words to describe it.
I am just one voice but I want to be sure my voice is heard repudiating this ideology. I pray that if enough of us proclaim that these views are not only unacceptable but also most definitely not Christian, then maybe this poison won't spread. A wise leader in the Christian community told me yesterday that he feels a responsibility to publicly stand up against this evil. I want to add my voice to his.
In addition to adequate vocabulary to describe it, I also lack the ability to fix this problem. I think back to what Ben Watson said (just want to note that he is a former UGA Bulldog - Go Dawgs!) in the aftermath of the mayhem in Ferguson and Baltimore. He put it so eloquently - "We don't have a skin problem - we have a SIN problem".
That'll still preach.
The real cause of anger and hate - whether it is directed towards someone with a certain skin color or someone who holds a viewpoint you oppose or someone in a position of authority (eg. law enforcement) - is sin. Not background or lack of education or poverty. SIN.
And the only answer to sin is the love of Christ. Not tolerance or understanding or hopes for change. The love of Christ.
And that happens person to person, one at a time, in each individual life.
This part is for us church people - we can surely all agree that our land needs healing. And God tells us the prerequisite for His healing ---- for those who are called by His name to humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways.
May I offer these suggestions as some practical ways to do that:
1. Ask the Lord to reveal any wrong attitudes in each of our own hearts. Is there a spirit of arrogance or selfishness or even hate towards ANYone or ANY group of people? Then we must confess that as sin and repent.
2. Speak out and add your voice to proclaim that attempts to declare superiority over anyone or expressions of hate against anyone are wrong. Unacceptable. And NOT Christianity. When acts of violence were committed in the name of Islam, Muslims (especially those in leadership) were criticized, and rightly so, for not speaking out in protest, loudly and frequently. When law enforcement was targeted with hatred and people of color did not condemn it, they were criticized, and rightly so. When members of Congress were gunned down at a softball practice and some members of the media went so far as to say the victim's voting record justified the shooting , conservatives were indignant and rightly so. This is an opportunity for white people to voice our rejection of hatred, especially in the name of Christ. Not only speak out but speak UP for the voiceless when you see mistreatment take place.
3. Do not let fear take hold. If you are being disparaged (for skin color or political views or religious beliefs), do not succumb to fear. The love of Christ towards you is greater than fear - grab hold to that. And always seek out the truth of what happened, not just what makes the rounds on talk shows. Get the facts, all of the truth.
4. If those around you are afraid, comfort and encourage them. But also reject the idea that these positions are pervasive. Truly, they are not. Yes, what happened last week was horrible. But such incorrigible behavior is NOT happening everywhere. Yes, even one incident is one too many but do not buy into the idea that this is representative of thousands of people. It is not.
5. Be kind to one another. Everywhere. To people that don't look like you AND to those who do! Commit to showing kindness at every turn and watch how it affects the environment around you. Things that seem insignificant like holding the door for a stranger or sharing a cheerful word with the waitress or giving up your seat to a senior citizen. Be a channel of kindness everywhere.
6. Do not develop a filter that tells you everything negative that happens to you is a result of racism or your position or your opinion. If someone didn't speak to you, it very likely may NOT be because you are in law enforcement. If you didn't receive a promotion, it might very well be that you didn't deserve it, not because of your skin color. If you hold a certain political view, do not assume that everything "your side" says is right nor that everything from "the other side" is categorically wrong. Important note: not everyone who voted for a candidate you oppose is a bigot nor a socialist. And on that note, make sure you cultivate relationships with people that are different from you in all sorts of ways. Listen to their stories. Respect their positions. Even if you don't agree. Embrace their value as a person created in the image of God. One friend of mine says she is purposing to develop empathy for people who see things differently than she does. Empathy - another way to show kindness.
7. LOVE does not mean agreement. We are totally free to love and accept one another without putting our stamp of approval on differing ideas. And we can disagree (even strongly) without being hateful. I have a friend from high school with whom I do not share political or religious beliefs. In fact, if we were to compare notes, we would probably find lots and lots and lots to disagree about. And yet, this woman treats me with the utmost kindness and respect and she is actually one of my greatest encouragers! She has gone out of her way to celebrate good things that have happened to me/my family and I hope she feels that she can say the same about me. We truly can love each other without agreeing.
8. Finally, know that real change is possible only through Jesus. We cannot accept one another enough, understand one another enough, or educate one another enough to bring about lasting change. That only comes as a result of the work that Christ does in the hearts of those who follow Him. This world is broken and it will be that way until He makes all things new. And in that newness, nothing unclean,no one who practices abomination and lying shall ever come in to that place of glory and light. Instead, people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, those bought for God by the precious blood of Christ, will be in that new place. Full of perfect love. Forever.
So let us pray that His Spirit would move across not only our land but also our world and that He would draw people to Himself. Let us be joyfully willing to go into all the world and make disciples. (And for us Moms, let us be joyfully willing when He calls our children to go. You have my permission - in fact my invitation - to remind me to do that my own self).
Humble ourselves. Pray. Seek Him. Turn away from wickedness.