Truth is a rare commodity nowadays, I suppose. Almost every ounce of news we get comes to us through sources where intent is prior to content. While what needs to be said always remains clear in light of the Gospel of Jesus, the when and how can get cloudy. Not because truth is elusive. But because we all usually need to “un-hear” before we can hear anything clearly. And so I suppose that’s a preacher’s job, sometimes. Not just knowing what to say but when and how to say it well. I’m writing today because I wanted my thoughts to be a little more thought out than something I could pop off in a sermon.
I’ve hated racism for as long as I can remember. That sounds a little soap-boxey and convenient but I don’t mean it to. I remember picking up this book called, “The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr.” in the 6th grade at my library in school and it rocked me. It was just speeches and letters. If I remember correctly, I picked it up some time after I had seen a special on TV about the life of Dr. King that made me cry. I don’t remember anything about my context that would have made it hit home so hard for me. It just did…his words, his death. I remember getting in a heated argument with a Sunday school teacher I had once because he called Dr. King a Communist and I was incensed. Maybe he was. I don’t know. I know there are all the stories about infidelity and all that. I get that. Maybe they’re true. Maybe they’re not. And if they’re true, they matter as far as how high we hold a public figure. However, none of those things have any bearing whatsoever on racism as an objective reality. An evil objective reality. Any way you slice it, it’s crazy that it’s still an issue. But wherever humanity is, there we are.
Christians actually don’t have the luxury of picking our enemies based on our preferences. We’ve been told who our real enemy is.
I know ANTIFA was there at Charlottesville. I know they weren’t innocent or non-violent (I’m hoping that if they really are anti-fascist they’ll fight this war with North Korea for us…but I won’t get those hopes up). I know that “White Nationalist” is a term the media is using to divide, to create a narrative…I know that. But ANTIFA isn’t the enemy. The White Supremacists, Nazis (how in the world are they still around anyway?), or Black Lives Matter, if that’s what you struggle with…they aren’t the enemy either.
Christians actually don’t have the luxury of picking our enemies based on our preferences. We’ve been told who our real enemy is. He whispers false narratives. He feasts on the prejudices that already lay inside all our hearts. We give him plenty of raw materials to build hatred and violence with. He distracts. He leeches. He’s been a liar and a murderer since the beginning. So when cars drive through crowds and flags get waved and screaming starts and idols get threatened, if he isn’t stirring the pot he’s handing out spoons. And if I may throw my hat into the ring with an opinion, maybe nothing makes him cackle harder than the church’s Americanized response to all of it. Don’t hang up yet. Hear me out. Please. Let’s just take off the political blinders for just a few minutes; I have them, too.
We’ve become so conditioned to respond to the news through our politics that we have watered down our ability to respond with the objectivity that comes from the Gospel. How do we see Charlottesville through the eyes of Jesus? Maybe we don’t feel like racism is as big a threat to our national position as say, homosexuality. Maybe we pass it off as a “social issue” and roll our eyes because we’re tired of hearing people complain about it. I think that’s the case. I think many American Christians only care about those sins that threaten their privilege to live out their Christianity without any trouble. In trying so hard to hold on to freedom, maybe we’ve let go of our first love…maybe we’ve let go of people in the name of security. I do think that. Have you ever tried to preach the ethics of Jesus to a thoroughly American audience and heard the stunned silence from a crowd full of people holding His book? “Love your enemies,” he says. Yeah. Right. That’s impossible.
We’ve become so conditioned to respond to the news through our politics that we have watered down our ability to respond with the objectivity that comes from the Gospel. How do we see Charlottesville through the eyes of Jesus?
Yes. It is. It’s almost like…we need a Savior or something. And instead of that making us merciful…we’ve become selfishly judgmental, jaded, cynical, bitter, disgusted, blind, and careless…anything but merciful. Because there’s any number of other factors going into an event like Saturday’s, we ignore the evil that really is still there. All I know is, the minute Jesus looks at me like I look at those with whom I’m tired of hearing from, I’m finished. Done. Kindling. Period.
We just don’t get the luxury of not caring about things like Saturday. We don’t respond like Republicans. We don’t respond like Democrats. We respond like redeemed sinners. We respond with renewed minds. We respond like the citizens of another world, for goodness sakes, not this one.
I live 2,454.4 miles away from Charlottesville, Virginia. And I know that in a few weeks it will probably be another blip on the news radar that just becomes a pawn to play in everyone’s narratives. I understand that. But what happened there lays at the heart of everything the church is in the world for: the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor.5:16-21). We don’t view anyone from Saturday’s events from a worldly perspective now that Jesus knows who we are.
..racism is not a social issue; it is a blood-of-Jesus issue.
If I have anything worthwhile to try to add to this discussion, I just want it to be this: learn to look at racism from a distinctly Christian perspective. As I heard a preacher say years ago, racism is not a social issue; it is a blood-of-Jesus issue. Do you realize this? Do you realize the opportunity this event gives you to speak the words of life wherever the discussion begins? Consider Revelation 5:9-10 as what it truly is: the goal of the cross. “And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slaughtered, and you purchased people for God by your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Jesus died to purchase a multi-ethnic bride from every people group on the earth. Racial diversity lies at the heart of the death of Jesus for sinners. Which means racism is most definitely not a mere social issue…it is a satanic strategy to disrupt the goal of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Few things demonstrate Satan’s hatred for the heart of Jesus than the sin of racism. It cuts at the heart of God’s image in humanity. It cuts at the heart of peace. It cuts at the heart of love. It cuts at the heart of the cross like few things do.
When I see the fruits of racial superiority and hatred and enmity, nothing could be more important for me to remember than the fact that I have been reconciled…to God! If the infinite vertical gap can be crossed, the horizontal one can crumble. Charlottesville didn’t happen because of politics. Charlottesville happened because of people. And Jesus came for them.
Jesus didn’t brush me off. He didn’t scoff at my sorrow, whether it was real or concocted. He didn’t define me through a group. He didn’t ignore my plight. He didn’t tell me to pull myself up by my bootstraps. He didn’t qualify whether or not I deserved help or concern or love. He just didn’t. He didn’t reject the seriousness of my condition. Not one single ounce of it. He took all my wrong, all of it, no questions asked, no secret charges, no bribes…and in one fell swoop, paid the debt for it in full. Absorbed all the wrath I deserved on Himself. That blows up all the narratives. It supersedes them all.
Far as the curse is found, beloved, we go running into the battle with the only cure.
I live approximately 5907 miles from Calvary. I’m almost 2,000 years removed from it. And He came for me.
Far as the curse is found, beloved, we go running into the battle with the only cure. That’s what Charlottesville was. That’s what Charlottesville is. Let Jesus be your narrative.