Pastor’s Corner – Charlottesville and the Like

I’ve lost sleep the last week trying to organize and come to grips with my thoughts regarding recent protests. I imagine many of you have too. Problem is, I spent part of last week putting those thoughts on paper. By the time I finished, I had page after page of something between a rant and a sermon. After throwing it away. I’m left with this.

What happened last week in Charlottesville and what has happened since is as old as time. This is by no means said to imply that I’m okay with any of the violence we’ve witnessed the last week. And while you’re entitled to scoff, I see great symmetry between what has happened over the last ten days and the account of original sin from the Bible. In that story, our story, Adam and Eve blame their desire to usurp God on a serpent, the devil, Satan …. Whatever you want to call it. It’s called evil. The excuse itself was evil. Little has changed.

What I have witnessed of late is this:

If we don’t like something or someone, we believe we have every right to return to our adolescence and pitch a temper tantrum. And during my temper tantrum, I will display the character of an undisciplined child. The means I am entitled to speak (scream and shout) or act upon any impulse I so desire. If I disagree with you, YOU need to shut up and hold your piece. While you’re at it, keep your opinion to yourself. It matters not; FOR I WILL NOT HEAR IT! In the process, and in spite of anything you might say or do, no matter the cost, I will impose my will over you. Should you resist? I’ll brand you intolerant.

A bit dramatic? Not really. Back in 1998 Josh McDowell wrote a book many panned called The New Tolerance which pretty much said we would find ourselves right where we are at this moment in America.

I mean, does anyone else find it ironic that those who have gathered to protest of late seem totally oblivious of their own actions? What I mean is that no matter the side or stance, in nearly every instance, the way both sides keep choosing to protest goes against the very reason they claim to be protesting to begin with. In other words, how does one protest hate with hate? How does one claim to be against hate while spreading hate at the same time? This is both illogical and irrational. It makes no sense.

A moment ago, I mentioned original sin or the fall of humanity? When Adam and Eve willingly chose to do the ONE thing God said was forbidden, they went right to it! Then, when God asked Adam “What have you done?”, Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the serpent. And since Satan (evil) has a thing for power. It’s safe to say, Satan blamed God. What a classic example of something we recently talked about in worship. (Passing the Buck) Again, scoff if you like, you can even call the fall of humanity and original sin a Fairy Tale. But from where I sit, through whatever lens we try to view it, that story sure looks and sounds familiar. It’s kind of like we’re trapped in a lopsided version of Groundhog Day.

So I ask, why is it so easy to see hate, recognize it and denounce it, but then, in the next breath still manage to perpetuate it?
An overarching theme from the Bible clearly teaches that we do this because we are broken. Every single one of us. (Romans 3:23) Ironically, a symptom of our brokenness is also blindness. Blindness to one’s own self-promoting ambition and eventual self-destruction.

What do I propose? I believe the church needs to speak up. Not by protesting; but with prayer! The church needs to step up. Instead of sitting back on our laurels, we need to do everything in our power to reach those around us with The Good News. A lot of us claim the name Christian; but we’re too passive. I mean, it’s kind of embarrassing. People against bigotry protest. People against the ghost of slavery protest. People against any form of the Nazi movement in America protest. People against the confederacy, statues and Neapolitan ice cream protest. Christians? We pretty much look solemn, shake our heads and assume the I just ate a rotten lemon look.

The point? Most all of us know injustice when we see it. When Jesus saw it, He did something profound. In the face of injustice, He cared. In the face of hate, He loved.

The preacher guy in me is tempted to list a half page of Bible citations. Instead of doing that, I’m going to leave just one plus a challenge. If you believe. If you live today, really live because of the Grace of Jesus Christ, ask God to speak through you.

Hebrews 10:22-25 (The Message)
22-25 So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

~Pastor Jim King