On the events in Charottesville

Pastor Abraham Johnson

Abraham Johnson

I was heartbroken last Saturday when I learned of the clashes between white supremacy advocates and counter protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. My heart is grieved for the family of Heather Heyer whose life was taken from her. I also am grieved for the families of the two state troopers who were monitoring the demonstrations in the air and also lost their lives. I am heartbroken.

I am also troubled and disturbed. I am troubled by the increasing presence of white nationalism, Neo-Nazism, and hatefully motivated acts of terrorism and violence in our country. It disturbs me to see symbols of hate and white supremacy paraded down the streets of a nation founded on the principle that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”.

Much deeper than this, as a follower of Jesus Christ I hold deep conviction that the hate and evil on display by groups such as these are what our Scriptures call sin. The values and rhetoric of white nationalism, Neo-Nazism, and racially motivated hate are diametrically opposed to the Kingdom of the one true King, Jesus our Messiah.

Jesus teaches his followers to love their neighbors. Jesus teaches his followers to love their enemies. We see Jesus model this himself in the Scriptures as he welcomes sinners and Samaritans, as he heals Jews and Gentiles. Jesus embodied his love for others by giving his life as a sacrifice to all. Furthermore, throughout Scripture we see a vision of not just one nation under God, but of all nations under God in their loyalty to Jesus. Consider this beautiful vision expressed in Revelation 7:9-10:

“Behold!  A great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

This is not a vision of one tribe. It is not a vision of one nation above others. Neither is this vision one that discriminates on account of race, language, or people groups. This is a vision of all peoples, all nations, all languages – a great multitude of diversity! – singing praises to God. This is the teaching of Scripture.

So, in these times, let us consider how we can embody these values in our own neighborhoods and in our own streets. Let us begin by opening our hearts to God, that God might show us anything within us that is offensive to Jesus (Ps. 51; Ps. 139:23-24). Let us lay any bigotry, prejudice or hatred before the throne of our God, that we may repent and receive God’s gracious forgiveness and transformation.

Let us be in prayer. Let us pray for God’s Kingdom and for God’s will to come to us on earth as it is in heaven. Let us pray for victims of evil. Let us pray for the guilty. Let us pray for our leaders – our mayors, our governors, our legislators, our president. And let us pray for Northfield, for its safety and its peace.

Let us be ones who listen and love like our Lord Jesus does. Let us be ones who consistently consider the needs of others (Philippians 2:4). Let us never grow weary in doing good. Let us not be overcome by evil. Let us overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

I opened this post by sharing my feelings of heartbreak and trouble. Let me close by sharing the hope I have.

Last night we held our first Community Meal of the new school year. I thought, since it is still August, that we wouldn’t see many people there last night. I was wrong. It was a full room – quite full. In our Fellowship Hall were English speakers and Spanish speakers. There were people who spoke languages from Vietnam and China. Many of our neighbors who were invited to the meal on August 6th decided to join us. And there we all sat, eating hamburgers and potato salad and some incredible baked beans. At one table were buckets filled with school supplies for families. At another table was a craft for the kids. There we all were, a room in one corner of our world filled with people of different physical capabilities, different educations, different colored skin, different languages, different nations of origin – you get the picture. This was a meal laid out in the name of Jesus, and last night was a work of God. It was a miniature manifestation of God’s Kingdom.

I went home last night filled with hope. Because last night reminded me of where God is pulling and shaking this world. Hate will be defeated. Evil will run for the hills. And this will happen because of the unstoppable power of Jesus’ love.

With deep affection,

Pastor Abe

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