Righteously Angry, Graciously Hopeful: In Light of Charlottesville
Many people in our congregation—and around the country—are still reeling from the astounding and horrid protests in Charlottesville, VA this weekend. We, at the Summit, have attempted to speak with one voice in response to this, condemning racial superiority in all of its forms while raising high the unifying power of the gospel.
During our services this weekend, I encouraged all of our campus teams to use their designated prayer time to pray for Charlottesville. We prayed that God would overturn the spirit of racism, that our minority brothers and sisters would know that we love and cherish them, and that the gospel would unite us in ways that only the gospel can. In addition, I was thankful that one of our directional elders, Bruce Ashford, issued an appropriately scathing critique of white supremacy.
But I wanted to add just a few words of my own. (I’m traveling right now, so these will have to be brief. But it seemed important for our people to hear it directly from their pastor.)
It pains me that we need to say this, but as the question has been raised, I want to make it clear: White supremacy is antithetical to the Kingdom of God. When we see racism like this in our streets, we should be righteously angry. That anger must not lead to senseless violence, but anger is entirely appropriate. If we aren’t bothered by ideas that consider other people sub-human, we haven’t yet understood the implications of the gospel. Allowing racism to run rampant isn’t a “social justice” issue; fundamentally, it’s a gospel issue.
We are all image-bearers of the Creator. All races. All peoples. All nations. Not only were we created as one race, but around the great throne of Christ in Revelation, we will worship the risen Son with people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. The church, God’s “Plan A” for rescuing the world, should stand as a place of refuge for people of every color. We are one race—the human race—united under one Savior—Jesus Christ—with one problem—sin—and united with one hope—the resurrection.
The church, God’s “Plan A” for rescuing the world, should stand as a place of refuge for people of every color.
What we see in white nationalism, as despicable as it is, represents a pride that is not far from any of us. We are all guilty of pride in various instances, even if it doesn’t manifest is such obviously horrific ways. As Robert Murray McCheyne said, “The seed of every sin is in every heart.” I pray that we would all see and believe that the evil we fight is not just out there, among particularly bad people. That evil is sin. I pray that God would use these senseless tragedies to make each of us examine the pride and bigotry that lurks in our own hearts.
The greatest of all the virtues, the Apostle Paul said, is love. The reason we hate white nationalism, more than anything else, is that we love our brothers and sisters of color. Images of white men, with torches, at night, marching around harkens back to a day when African Americans experienced domestic terror at the hands of violent mobs. When I, as a white man, recognize just how terrifying those images are for my black friends, my heart breaks. Love should be the reason Charlottesville pains us. And it should outweigh any other consideration in this matter.
The church is not a group of public policy pundits. We are a kingdom of priests that is called to pray for our society. That’s who I want us to be in the days and weeks to come. We need to show the world what it looks like to have an identity that runs deeper than any cultural or ethnic identity. Our gospel identity defines us, unites us, and sends us out into God’s mission.
Would you join me in praying for healing and peace in our society? The world may see symptoms of the problem, but it knows nothing of the cure. Let us be the salt and light that Jesus said we are, appealing to our heavenly Father to bring the peace that passes understanding.