When Lightning Strikes and Charlottesville Happens

Posted: August 22, 2017 in Culture and Faith, Things of Faith

lightning_hits_treeIt was a sunny day with fluffy white clouds and a small warm breeze. Not long before I had gotten out of the pool, dried off and sat down to catch up on some news. Years ago I would have had a newspaper sitting beside my chair. Today I simply pick up my iPhone and open a news source app. Well yesterday was one of those days. I had been trying to keep up with the news in Palestine and Virginia. I had heard of violent clashes in Ramallah and had been praying for the people there. I had also heard about the protests and counter-protests in Virginia. I was looking for updates.

Sometimes when you have an agenda things don’t go the way you’d hope. No sooner had I started looking at the news and scrolling through the twitter lines a thunderstorm blew in and with a loud crack we lost our internet and satellite television. It was about that time twitter lit up with reports of a car driven into a crowd in Virginia. Images started to come online of the violent scene. Images of an angry crowd. Armed militia dressed in military fatigues and carrying riot shields marching down the street. It was deeply saddening.

With the ever increasing political divide in this country, last Fall I had decided to enter a season of prayer and silence (attempting to use less words). I did not want to contribute to a culture that was so deeply divided that hate was imminent. I have been determined to step away from the sphere of national politics and intentionally work at being a Jesus follower. I am convinced that when my life is most fully rooted in the narrative of the one who laid down his life as an indiscriminate outpouring of love that my responses tend to be more reflective of that.

As I was trying to hear and read what was going on, one lightning strike cut me off fromhttps3a2f2fblueprint-api-production-s3-amazonaws-com2fuploads2fcard2fimage2f5623942f3d0a6db5-d0e6-4bff-a60d-3c9aa5693517 the streams of news that was already shaping my opinions. The most immediate response was to pray, “God have mercy!” With the little information I was able to read and the twitter responses I caught and heard reported about politicians, it was clear that this was more than another reflection of political divide. These are the symptoms of a disease that goes much deeper. What we are witnessing is the underbelly of a system that has taken centuries to build and vast fortunes to defend. It is a metastasized cancer on this continent. It is a demonic movement of hate and violence. It sets out to destroy discriminately dividing God’s creation (quite the opposite of Christ’s love).

There is undoubtedly racism that veins through this cancerous culture. Yet the insanity of the violence and hatred that it births transcends racism. In the midst of reading about the events unfolding, I found myself caught up with feelings of anger so deep it was moving me toward hate. This is a cancer that threatens to kill all that is good. It is darkness that sets out to extinguish the light. It is in this context that the followers of Jesus must be present. timthumb-php_

I am well beyond my limits for tolerating voices either denying racism or minimizing its effects. It is especially conspicuous for descendants of northern European peoples who have never experienced the ongoing traumatic effects of chattel slavery (nor the traumatic effects of the holocaust) and systemic white supremacism to make such claims. What has become most disturbing for me is to see people I care about making these comments on social media exposing their lack of self and social reflection. Many of those same folks claim to be Jesus followers, all the while side stepping the truth of complicity. I am convinced that the North American Christian community is incapable of speaking any word regarding racism so long as it refuses to repent (i.e. admit its complicity and inability to fix it). As a middle-aged white man who has been raised with all the privileges afforded that standing, I am thoroughly ashamed of my own voluntary and involuntary complicity to this mess. I am keenly aware that the color of my skin and my gender have afforded me certain privileges. By accepting those privileges I quotevoluntarily participated in the cultural system designed to keep certain people groups in their place. I am also involuntarily complicit as I have no control over my gender or family lineage and yet regardless of the circumstances I have been nonetheless complicit. I suppose the anger I feel finds its roots in this shame. My first instinctual response is to deny or downplay my complicity. My second instinctual response is to point my finger at everyone else. In this way it takes the attention off my own complicity. The one response that is not instinctual is to simply admit it and then turn away from it. This is where I have found peace. Not a passive peace but one that calls me to those places where Jesus would go outside the camp to stand with those who are suffering. The only path that the white church in North America can take is that of repentance. There will be no peace among Christians without it.

My earnest prayer is that the Holy Spirit will open our eyes to our corporate sin and bring us to our knees in repentance. May it be so in the name of Jesus.

 

 

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