Some Thoughts on Charlottesville
Christ Church -
I want to begin by apologizing for not praying for or even mentioning the horrible events in Charlottesville, VA over the weekend. I did not even see the news until early Sunday morning because of meetings all weekend, but I still wish we had committed the matter to prayer in our worship gathering. Please forgive me for that oversight.
Having read about the events and reflected on them some, I would like to offer a few thoughts:
1. The gospel is the centerpiece of our worship and our life together as a church, which is why we steer clear of anything that smacks of political partisanship. However, the issue of racism is primarily a gospel issue, not a political issue. In fact, Paul makes this exact point in Ephesians 2:11-22. Immediately after one of the most eloquent and moving descriptions of the work of Jesus Christ in all of the Bible (Eph. 2:1-10), Paul applies the gospel by stating that Jesus "is himself our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace" (Eph. 2:14-15). In sum, one world-altering implication of Jesus' work is that ethnicities that were formerly divided by racial hostility and hatred are now united together in Christ's Church, through his shed blood. So, to claim to believe the gospel amounts to a commitment to speak out against and stand against racism and all of its evils.
2. The white supremacy and racism displayed in Charlottesville over the weekend should be condemned as utterly evil and wicked. Jesus died for people of every tribe and tongue (Rev. 5) and came to set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18). The evangelical church in America has a long history of silence regarding racial oppression and violence. This must end in our generation. I have thought today about the words of Martin Luther King, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
3. Any notion that the United States is now in a "post-racial" historical setting should be shattered after the events of Charlottesville (much less the events of Summer 2015 and many others that are not even captured by the media). Racism is alive and well in our nation, and those who profess the gospel must stare this evil face to face. As Jack Miller routinely said, "We are worse than we think." We must believe this about ourselves and then flee to the love of Jesus, who loves us more than we ever dared hope.
4. I long for Christ Church to be a place of empathy, love and hospitality towards people of all races. To every person of color at Christ Church: I am deeply privileged to pastor you and we are honored to have you among us. We need you and we love you.
5. Let us mourn the evil and the wounds of this world and press into the hope that one day Jesus Christ will return and make all things new. Charlottesville sadly reminds us that something is terribly wrong with this world and must be put right. The advent of Jesus is the day when all injustice will be rectified forever, and God will make all things new. No more violence. No more racism. No more oppression. No more turning a blind eye and a deaf ear. No more evil. Come, Lord Jesus.