A Response to Charlottesville
By Kent J. Ingle, D.Min.
Over the weekend, the city of Charlottesville experienced an unprecedented act of hate. After hours of clashes between a rally of white supremacists and counter-protesters, one of the members of the white supremacist group drove his car into the crowd of protesters, killing one and injuring over 20 people. Many of these people are still in critical condition at the local hospital. Unfortunately, we live in a country where these events are becoming increasingly more common. Being located only 20 minutes outside of Orlando, we still are living with the grief of the deadly Pulse Nightclub shooting from the summer of 2016.
In a country where our political, social and economic differences have divided us to the point of outright violence against our fellow Americans, the Church can no longer remain on the sidelines of this cultural epidemic. As followers of Christ, who have been shown love and grace by God, we have the responsibility to be ambassadors of this message of grace to our nation. True change and healing in this country will only come from a deep commitment to love and be reconciled with our neighbors, no matter what political or ideological differences we may have with them. We cannot expect the healing of the deep emotional wounds of our nation to occur if we, the Church, are not willing to engage in loving our neighbors. The path of making peace with our neighbors may at times be difficult, but it is clear from the scriptures that Jesus did not give His disciples any avenues to avoid this mandate.
In His seminal Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told His disciples, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will inherit the earth.” When asked what is the greatest commandment, Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind—and the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.” He told his followers, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” With His last breath, in the face of all of the hatred and sin of mankind, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them.”
The message of Jesus’ life and teaching is this: in the face of deep hate, there can be only one response of the Church—deep, unyielding love. Our response to the violence of Charlottesville has to be an unconditional love for our neighbor that moves us to actions of reconciliation. At SEU we are committed to obeying the will of God through our love, which stirs and creates peace in the midst of turmoil, strife, and conflict. We condemn these acts of hate along with those who would use these events to further divide our country along identity politics. Our prayers are with the families of the victims of these horrific acts. We also pray for the mayor of Charlottesville, that God would give him the wisdom to lead the city through this impossibly difficult time. Our goal is to continue spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ until that day when He returns to establish His kingdom and bring peace on earth for all of mankind.