Today I want to share something I wrote for my church in light of the tragedies in El Paso and Dayton. By God’s grace we will return to Ephesians 3 tomorrow.
Repenting of Our Supremacy, Loving Our Enemies, and Hope.
On Sunday morning when I woke up and realized that it wasn’t just someone misspeaking on the news that there had actually been another mass shooting in less than 24 hours here in America, I was stunned. Sickened might be the right word. Both atrocities were carried out by a person with superiority issues. One a white nationalist the other a known hate filled misogynist.
God made us to flourish, to thrive, to live in peace and love with one another. And yet we, God’s image bearers, find reasons to hate and even to slaughter each other. How is this even possible? What darkness must exist for someone to drive hundreds of miles to kill people that he doesn’t even know just because of their race or background? What is this white supremacy if not the grossest of sins? It is a violation of God himself. God hates violence. He hates hate. He hates it in its least and greatest forms.
And so we must stand and condemn any and all forms of racial superiority, especially as Christ followers. You simply cannot love God and hate people. Any people. God made all people in his image and likeness. God has spent all of redemptive history seeking to save all of humanity. Christ’s incarnation was the union of God with all of mankind (white, black, Latino, male, female, everyone). Christ died for the world. Christ has, through his death and resurrection, eliminated all racial barriers to God thus allowing every nation to worship him in their own unique and beautiful ways. And at the same time he has eliminated all barriers to unity within the new humanity, the church, allowing us all to love and accept one another in and through our differences with grace and humility and justice. The church, you and I, must stand up to condemn this great evil. Not just the murder but the mindsets behind the murder.
But we must start by looking at our own hearts. Our own supremacies. We must repent of our own sinful mindsets. I know none of us wants to admit that we are racist or sexist or that we are supremacists. But we are. The Bible says that all kinds of sin still lives within us, in our flesh (Romans 7). We are fools to think that this is the one form of evil that somehow we’ve avoided. Paul warns us not to think too highly of ourselves. He knows this is the source of all evil. Therefore, our condemnation must begin with the condemnation of our own sinful attitudes. Of our own selfishness. Our own superiority. Our own self-righteousness. Our first move is always one of repentance.
Then and only then can we humbly and mercifully stand against the greatest of injustices. The injustice of racism. The injustice of white supremacy. The injustice of murder. The injustice of our own indifference. The injustice of clinging to our own ideologies while our neighbors, whom we are commanded to love, literally die. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Christ’s answer is a declarative YES.
What is the solution moving forward? Paul said it is to “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12). Jesus said we must pray and do good to our enemies (Luke 6). Could doing good today overcome evil tomorrow? Could love actually prevent the next shooting? Could love for an enemy today keep them from violence tomorrow? A year from now? Five years from now?
It may be too late for these shooters. One is dead. The other is locked away most likely for life. I pray someone will love him. God does. This is a hard prayer. I cringed typing this.
Listen, I’ve prayed “Come quickly Lord Jesus” just as much as you have. Do I want to escape this wicked world in which we live? Of course. But ours is not and never has been a hope rooted in escaping. It is a hope rooted in newness. Regeneration not escape. When Jesus resurrected and ascended to Heaven it was not to escape this earth. It was so he could re-enter this earth and make it new by the Holy Spirit in us. Our exile is for a purpose. If we couldn’t overcome evil with good in this life, then why would God say it to us? If our only hope is to hide until Jesus comes back, then why are we even still here? If love couldn’t change the world, then why do we have the Holy Spirit of love indwelling us?
We must work to overcome evil with good. And the greatest of goods is the love of Jesus Christ and his gospel. We must be people of hope. Not naiveté. But the real hope that our King has granted to us that is found in his life giving death. His forgiveness of sins. His removal of evil from our hearts and souls.
His manifesto of love will prevail. His love has already conquered death. His love will raise the dead. His love will crush evil. His love will turn our weakness into power, our suffering into glory, and our despair into hope. And it is this love that alone can turn our enemies into neighbors and prevent the next tragedy. This is what will actually change the world.
Fight for legislation? Yes. Promote awareness? Yes. Grieve. Mourn. Cry. Pray. But most importantly love. Right now wherever you are. Love like God. It is our only hope.