I had to check the calendar several times Saturday.
White supremacists marching the streets. A KKK rally complete with pointy hats and rebel flags. People murdering each other over a statue.
Were we in the 1960s? Wait, is that a Nazi flag? Is this the 1940s?
To say my head was spinning is an understatement. It’s 2017. Do we really need to say that the KKK and Nazis are bad?
Apparently we do. Which means we need to reevaluate where we are as a society, and what is required of us.
Freedom Without Consequence
We are generations removed from the last major threat to our democracy. As a result we have enjoyed a freedom that has no real price for the vast majority of us. Oh sure, we have holidays where we thank a veteran, or put flowers on graves, as we drive to a cookout to play with pyrotechnics. Collectively, we have no idea how much our freedom costs. The generation that last had to worry about being drafted into the military is quickly approaching their seventh decade of life, thus we have over half a century of not being required to give, sacrifice, or die for our freedoms. Sure, there are some, thankfully, who have chosen to do so, but as a nation we have been pretty spoiled over the last 40+ years. This means we have enjoyed a freedom at no cost, and a freedom with no cost is a freedom with no consequence.
What does a freedom with no consequence look like? It looks like Saturday in Charlottesville. It looks like hate. We say anything we want, as hatefully as we want and get violently offended when someone dares to disagree. We have forgotten that millions of lives were lost eradicating the Swastika and everything it represents. We no longer feel the loss of an entire generation to battling the evils of fascism, and because we feel no such loss, we feel no shame in actions that are obviously evil.
Freedom to Speak Responsibly
Now let me say, the hate groups that petitioned and received a permit to be in Charlottesville had every right to be there on Saturday. The same constitution that protects my right to preach the Gospel protects their right to spew hate. I fully support their right to be there, but their right to gather must be met with a responsible action from the Church.
Every pulpit should proclaim God’s love for all men.
Beneath every steeple, let ring the songs of grace for people of every color.
In every pew there should sit people so consumed with God’s love that they forget their neighbor is black, white, male, female, democrat, republican, or otherwise.
At every altar let prayers be lifted up that God’s radical grace break the hearts of the protesters, counter-protesters, and anyone else who harbors hate for his fellow man.
Then, let us leave those places of worship and display love to our co-workers and neighbors. When we hear hate, speak against it. Confront all forms of racism, however it presents itself. Stand up for the oppressed, no matter their appearance or alliance. Make no excuse for hate-filled rhetoric. Stop comparing what one side did to what the other side did. Wrong is wrong, and expose it for what it is: sin. Show that God’s church, not man’s country, is the only place where we will ever have unity with diversity.
This is our responsibility. This is our time. This is our call as Christ-followers.