Incomplete thoughts on Charlottesville
This week I was horrified.
The weekend events of Friday and Saturday in Charlottesville only put a period at the end of bellicose and derisive week.
Growing up, I remembered watching news footage of civil rights marchers attacked. There were post-apocalyptic fears of the Russians and the West annihilating each other. The more things change, the more they stay the same. The historical perspective can make you wince or smile when old fashions come back. Someday, even mullets will come back. But the news of this week has gone beyond a wince. Without a smile in sight.
In one week, two angry toddlers with power to destroy the planet hurled insults and threats at each other. Each one, both emotionally driven, self-centered, and focused on their own agenda, poised to bring “fire…fury…power” down upon each other.
In this same week, as an old historical monument of Robert e. Lee was being superseded by the march of time and justice, the unfinished business of America’s original sin came crashing in. As culturally powerful white-supremacists, fearing their loss as the lone creators of their own future, playing a role as victims for having their place of prominence in society threatened by justice, fueled not by a simple misguided sense of injustice but by a misanthropic hatred, of an anti-life, anti-Christ movement gathered to say they are not done and they will not go away quietly. They choose to see justice as a zero-sum game: the increase in justice and opportunity for some means the loss of justice and opportunity for them. Inspired, or at least in step with the Redeemers of the Reconstruction period, these forces will not go away easily.
I want to be on the side God chooses.
I have no doubt that as I read the biblical testimony of the people of God, they were abused, humiliated, and overpowered. But the story shows God choosing the side of the broken, the exiled, the stranger, the weakest over and over again. Not those who whine that their prominence is being diminished. But the cry of the poor who have no advocate.
I have not yet found a scripture telling my that God listens to the whining of oppressors losing influence.
I know these are human battles waged in every generation. The personalities, locations, and catalysts change. But the willingness to destroy in “fire and fury” speaks to the nihilism of our day. Rather, we need to amplify of conviction of a love that claims allegiance to no empire, Phil 3:20. A love that is willing to face the enemy, Matt 5:43-48. And a love that does not hit back since our fight is against a pervasive spirit, Eph 6:12 always willing to ensnare and enlist broken people to fight its wars.
For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, Ephesians 6:12
I’m not done trying to exorcise these forces from our shared lives as neighbors, friends, fellow-citizens. I want us to redouble our efforts at demonstrating what a gospel of peace looks like: hospitality shared, kindness extended, sins confessed, humble service practiced. We have held to a confession that believes that justice and peace are not only sought, but can be practiced.
Please, join us.