I’m finding it very difficult to be a happy Pastor this morning.
Last night a friend asked me, “Are you going to be talking about what happened this week on Sunday?” Since I’ve been on a media fast this week I had to ask him, “What’s going on?” He then proceeded to tell me about the shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas. I came in to my office this morning to look up the stories and try to wrap my head around them. I haven’t been able to so far.
7 people dead and 7 people wounded in senseless acts of violence. I watched one man die in the front seat of his car and another die lying in the dirt. I watched thousands of peaceful protesters run in fear as officers were picked off one by one. Meanwhile, our political circus continues its freak show and our new President will either be a fear-monger or grossly incompetent. Hurry for ‘murica.
If I was feeling a touch more melodramatic, and if this were less serious, I could ask the silly question “What is this world coming to?” Silly because, as people of faith, we know the answer — Jesus tells us in the parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matthew 13:24-30). In that parable Jesus talks about the simultaneous maturing of good and evil — the dark will get darker and the light will get lighter until the Day comes when he will put an end to wickedness. There will never be a day short of Jesus’s return where humanity will overcome wickedness, bigotry, fear, hate — where humanity overcomes Sin on a national or international scale. BUT that also means there will never be a day where evil wins and love, kindness, compassion and the desire to see others helped, healed and free will be extinguished from the earth.
If there is anything the Old Testament teaches us, it is that we can’t legislate morality. We can make all the rules we want about how people should treat one another and they won’t change our hearts. They will help curb certain behaviors (and, for the record, I am in favor of that), but that root of Sin in humanity will just find a different way to bear fruit. While I believe we need to work for reform in our government and law enforcement, I’m not delusional — if anything is going to change it is going to change because individual men and women choose to live differently, not because we elect the right officials.
As I see it, the great evil we need to overcome in our nation, particularly within the white community, is the indifference of good men and women. This video demonstrates that point admirably. Indifference is the heinous manifestation of hate and the polar opposite of love because indifference strips another person of the dignity of being human. I can be indifferent about my spot in the parking lot, I cannot be indifferent about the suffering of human beings or else I lose a portion of my humanity as a result. I believe this is what the Black Lives Matter campaign is all about. By saying “black live matter” we aren’t saying that other lives don’t matter, we are saying that black people are human, that they share in the dignity of being created in the image of God. The image of God in the black community isn’t being well honored in our society and that needs to change. When one candle lights another, the first isn’t diminished. The same is true with honor. I don’t have to devalue myself as a white man in order to fight for the honor, safety and dignity of my black friends. In fact, doing that is the only way the Light will shine in this present darkness.
Overcoming my indifference is going to require more than a blog post, more than momentary feelings of outrage and injustice. It is going to require a fundamental shift in the way I think about myself and others and how I live my life. It is going to require me to have heart-to-heart talks with the Eternal Optimist, Jesus, and to go out of my way to meet and befriend people who aren’t in my typical social circle. It is going to require me to bear another person’s burdens, to “walk a mile in their shoes” and love them like I love myself.
I have to believe that the Way of Jesus is the answer to our nation’s problems. The way we will reconnect with Father and recreate this world is through sacrificial love, compassion, justice and righteousness. We must love people where they are AND call them to a higher standard. We must realize we are where we are for very good reasons AND realize that stagnation leads to death. God didn’t stand by and watch the world roll on towards Hell, he took a stand, he got involved. That is part of the image we bear. Black lives matter, indifference is the enemy and the Way of Jesus is how we fight.