There is an epidemic of fear, hate, and bitterness running rampant on our globe right now. And for some reason we were momentarily lulled into the lie that America was immune.
I think it is safe to say we have had our wake up call.
And as my heart breaks over the strife and the pain, I have to shout it out: This is not the way.
This is not the end. It is not the end of our story.
It is the middle. The part where the characters try to make things right. And in the most intriguing stories I've read, usually the characters get it wrong a few times.
So I'm wondering this: since as Christians we live in the full knowledge that this is not the end of our story, are we willing to extend grace to the characters around us who mess things up? Or even admit that we could be messing up too?
Are we able to discern between those who are maliciously attempting to destroy lives, and those who simply think differently?
Are we willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that maybe, just maybe, those who disagree with us aren't the villains trying to destroy the world? Maybe we even have a bit of villainy in ourselves as well?
Maybe our battle is truly not against flesh and blood, "but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." (Eph. 6:12)
If my battle is not against a person, but against the powers of hell, then in all of my dealings with that person I must take one course of action every. single. time.
I must pray. I must pray for them. I may even need to pray with them.
I must look into the face of the people I believe are committing the vilest crimes against humanity and I absolutely must pray for them. Jesus told me to. Jesus prayed for me.
And when I just can't take it and I want to scream at those I see as my enemies, I have to remember that at one time I was an enemy of God. What did God choose to do with me at that time? Pursue me. Send His only Son to die for me. In His love and mercy and justice, He punished my sin on His Son. On His Son. And while it is completely contradictory to my sinful nature (COMPLETELY), He calls me to pick up my cross and do the same, to sacrifice the time He has given me on His altar. To offer up myself, indignation and all, and use His time to pray for His creatures, the very people He chose to create. The very ones He died for.
I don't want to do this. I have to. Not simply because God says so, but because there will always be another battle to fight- another person with whom I strongly disagree. Another person to rouse my "righteous" indignation. And if I allow myself to give in to the lie that these are my battles to fight alone, I will be embittered and angry forever- incapable of living in the thankfulness and joy to which God also implores me. I will have forgotten that God is God and I am not, and I will place myself in the judgment seat when I actually stand just as condemned as the person I am attacking.
I must view my neighbor through the lens of God in Christ Jesus. That is my only hope for peace and wisdom. The moment I forsake those lenses for my own fallen ones is the moment I bow to hopelessness and judgmental actions. Instead, I am called to bow before God alone. To utter "Thy will be done," and keep on living like the King is still on His throne. A heart that submits to the Lord is a heart that has hope even when they are in broken relationships at a broken time.
So what should I do? Take action- but take it in the calm confidence of grace. Stand against injustice. Speak up for those who have no voice. Love my neighbor as myself. And realize that fighting hate with hate is pointless. As a mom who listened to "He started it, she started it," more times than I can count this morning, I do have to say hateful retaliation solves nothing. (Though I did congratulate them on cooperating with each other to drive me crazy.)
We have these words on our wall and I believe they rest there for such a time as this: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that."- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
We can only be lights in the darkness if we choose to answer temporal trials with the certainty of eternity.
My words will only matter if I speak truth with the absolute assurance that my words are not coming from a heart smoldering with hatred, but from a heart burning with love for the victims and the criminals.
I can only do that if I first remember where I came from, where I stand with God because of Christ.
And I must remember that true and lasting reconciliation comes only from God. No amount of organizing, and posting, and protesting can accomplish the work of changing hearts. That belongs to God. Which means that while I am responsible for my actions, I am not responsible for the results.
Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8) May I be given the strength to live this way no matter what the future holds.