Remember, all the division and terror of this world and of this country right now, it is temporary. Yes, we must fight for what is right in the here and now. We must stand for what our gut and our God tell us matters most. We should think deeply about it but be sure not to lodge mud balls of hate toward others in the midst of fighting hate. And to remember what it means to be a Christ follower even when faced with the ugliest evil right here on our own soil.
As my friend Kira Davis said yesterday on a Facebook Live video, what takes courage at a time like this is not anger — but grace. It’s not hard to go on Facebook or Twitter and declare you aren’t racist or you stand against white supremacy. Almost everyone is — aside from this small, abhorrent, fringe group who managed to stir up an entire nation with the 200 people they were able to gather from around the country after months of trying to recruit people.
Even if it was 2,000 or two million people, though, it wouldn’t change the change we are supposed to behave towards our enemies.
What’s hard after a weekend like Charlottesville is laying down your pride and self-righteousness, realizing that the only way to change hearts is prayer and to have relationships with those you “should” hate, according to the world. Maybe that’s praying for them, or striking up a friendship with someone “like that” in order to show them love. Declaring you are “against” them doesn’t make you any different than most every other person saying that same thing.
I was getting outraged this weekend, like many of you, not only by the actions of this group and the sub-par response from President Trump, but also at those who began harping on narratives of race and blame that I simply don’t agree with. But, like Davis said in her video, I had to lay my anger down. My outrage isn’t special and it isn’t Christ-like. And God doesn’t need me to be defensive or angry — He’s got it. Billy Graham once said this:
“It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.”
That’s it. God makes it pretty easy for us to know how to handle what comes at us in life. We pray, we read his Word, we love. And that is the most powerful thing we can do to combat evil.
You know every person on this planet was made in God’s image, including white supremacists and members of ISIS. As Nelson Mandela said:
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than it’s opposite.”
And I think we have to lean on sentiments like that at times like this. I think we have to remember that Jesus didn’t post signs that said “no tax collectors here.” He joined them for dinner and washed people’s feet and showed them love EVEN THOUGH. And He shows US love EVEN THOUGH.
The truth is, we are all sinners that Christ died for, including those you stand “against.” As Deidre Riggs wrote in her fantastic book, “One: Unity in a Divided World,”:
“If we desire to emulate the ways of Jesus, we’ve got to make sure everyone is part of our vocabulary when we engage the world.”
What matters? We’re on this earth for just a little while. The older I get, the more sobering stories I see and realities I come in contact with that this world is so temporary. People I know have lost their newborn babies, women I’ve met have died of cancer in their early thirties. Men go to war and never come back, police officers die in a helicopter crash just trying to do their job.
Earlier this year, when racial tension was having another flare, I got into a clash on an issue with one of my best friends. We are notoriously on different sides of the aisle but I could tell she was hurting and that the issues were personal and her outrage and emotion was powerful, overtaking her almost — which was understandable. There are many things we disagree on and I wondered, can our friendship survive another disagreement like this? But then, I let go. I realized it didn’t matter if she made me see I was wrong or if I made her see some point I was trying to make.
This is happening because we live in a fallen world and sin will NEVER be absent from it. If it’s not racism, it will be hate of another kind. We cannot eliminate injustice or hate here on earth, but we can pro-actively choose to love. We can be brave and strong by choosing grace, going back to the old 90s bracelets that asked, what would Jesus do?
By sending hate back towards the evildoers, we are doing the opposite of what Jesus would have us do.
“You are not courageous for being angry…it takes some courage to forgive, to look at someone who has cut you to the core and say I’m not going to hold your responsible for this. That takes guts,” Davis said in the video. “And we will never solve this problem until all of us realize that none us are virtuous and none of are without sin.”
I started this piece by saying this division is temporary — and it is. Take heart in knowing that Jesus has “overcome the world” (John 16:33) — and one day there will be peace and harmony. The tears and the hate and the death will all be gone.
In the meantime, while we’re still here, choose love.