This new year has been filled with turmoil and struggle. It seems that we have entered 2021 in the same state we left 2020.
Yesterday, Capitol Hill was briefly taken over by domestic terrorists that branched out from a right wing rally to insist that Trump remain in the White House for another term. While I don’t intend to discuss that issue in detail here, I will say that the white evangelical church is largely responsible for how this came about. At every turn, this group of Christians have egged on the rhetoric of a power hungry narcissist. They have turned a blind eye to the plight of their brothers and sisters of color and those most vulnerable to injustice and the virus that is plaguing our world. All of these actions and inactions have solidified, in the minds of those who would do harm and break the law, that the church holds allegiance to the Republican party and the US Government over her allegiance to Jesus. Everyone who has been a part of this movement has misrepresented Jesus.
What do we do now? How can we go from violence and hate to reconciliation and being truly Christlike?
In my last post I shared about an amazing group of local pastors I have been meeting with to discuss and tackle the issue of reconciliation within the church. We have seen breakthrough and real, beautiful relationships form through this turbulent season and it is only by the grace of God and some serious commitment from those involved that it has happened. The truth is, we cannot fix this world, but Jesus can and we must trust Him with the everyday small things if we want to see big change.
Here is a simple breakdown of what I believe are the most important elements to reconciliation that you can employ in your own life and relationships:
We must be able to admit that none of us has all the answers and that probably most of what we think we know is wrong or incomplete. An incomplete truth is not truth so it is sufficient to say that incomplete is, in effect, wrong. We have to become comfortable with saying we don’t know or understand something. “I don’t know”, is the most spiritual thing you can say in times like these.
Real relationships cannot be built upon casual touch points revolving around a common interest. In fact, that is exactly what has helped to destroy the evangelical church. People getting together for church services where the message doesn’t challenge the powers of this world and political rallies that affirm those powers has cultivated an environment where faithfulness to ideologies above faithfulness to the witness of Christ has become acceptable and desirable. So when I say faithfulness, it is important to note that I am referring to faithfulness to Christ above all else and then secondly to one another. If you need me to expound upon who the “one another” is, please visit the story of the good Samaritan. Study that parable (and the many other passages that address love for your neighbor) until you begin to feel empathy with and desire to extend grace to immigrants, BLM, and the LGBTQ+ community, if you don’t already. Commit to forming deep relationships and having hard conversations… in humility.
None of these conversations lead to real healing if we aren’t intentional about grace; intentional about remembering that we are the beneficiaries of grace and intentional about being vessels of that same grace. Are there different graces? In short, yes. We are made in the image of God who has communicable attributes He has passed onto us. One of those attributes is love from which grace flows. But the way humans love is not the way God loves. We are imperfect reflections so we impart imperfect grace. True, perfect, unhindered grace that comes directly from Christ and flows through us is the only things that can heal the Church. We are divided because we have not lived by this grace and we have formulated version of “forgiveness” that are actually self serving and not of the Lord. We all need to form daily practices of reflection and repentance that will in turn form us into better disciples. (More to come on those practices in a later post).
Later this month, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I will be meeting with this group I have been telling you about, which we have been calling Undivided Fredericksburg. We will be lifting the nation and one another in prayer from 7-9 pm EST on January 18th as part of a larger movement called Civil Righteousness. I hope you all will pray with us and consider taking steps to foster reconciliation in your own lives. Lord knows we need all the (humble) hands on deck that we can get. Together, in prayer, we can help King’s that dream live on.
Let’s remember his dream and seek the Lord for what is next. I believe God is pouring out His Spirit on this nation and world and I pray that we would do the difficult work that is necessary to prepare our hearts to receive this fresh anointing. I pray that many would receive Him for the first time and that, together, we will dream again.