On Monday, President Trump did what many people thought he should’ve done on Saturday – when he finally denounced the specific hate groups (the KKK, neo-Nazi’s and white supremacists) who were at the core of the violence in Charlottesville. Many Americans were incensed that the one who is notoriously quick to call out people on twitter chose silence in this situation. Nor did he mention these rabid racist groups by name when he made his first public statement about the situation. His silence was seen as either a confirmation of his racism and/or a move of political cowardice. Either way, it’s terrible.
Most pundits think that it’s only as a matter of political expedience that he finally denounced these repugnant groups on Monday.
Personally, I think there’s a lot of blame to go around for how badly the weekend turned out in Virginia. Regardless, I wish the President would’ve condemned these groups immediately. It’s mystifying and more than a little disheartening.
Oh well, better late than never…I guess.
On the other hand, I was happy to see that most of the President’s religious advisory council spoke out with clarity and renounced these hate groups.
Ronnie Floyd, former Southern Baptist Convention President wrote, “These protesters do not represent in any form or way the Christian faith or the values followers of Jesus stand for. In fact, white nationalism and white supremacism are anathema to the teachings of Christ, who called us to love and to serve our neighbor—regardless of skin color, gender, or religion—to give up our life for our friends and to even love our enemies.”
Ralph Reed commented, “Those who twist the cross of Christ into a swastika exchange his message of love and redemption for one of hatred and evil.”
And Russel Moore summed it up perfectly in a tweet, ”“the so-called alt-right white-supremacist ideologies are anti-Christ and satanic to the core.”
These men, unlike the President, were not late with their observations and I’m so very grateful for that.
What about us, the EFCA? The Eastern District Association? How are we doing with this?
I wonder, how many EFCA preachers addressed this on Sunday? How many of our churches actually prayed about the situation and all of its implications? How many churches chose to avoid it and went ahead with business as usual?
Here’s my opinion – stated to a largely white evangelical movement – we simply cannot be silent about this. We have to pray and we have to act. We need our EFCA pastors to preach with clarity and courage about God’s plan to redeem and make for Himself a new kingdom that is being formed from every nation, tribe and tongue. We need pastors who will not be afraid to call out the sin of racism and call for repentance when it is present. Every single time! Don’t misunderstand, we shouldn’t preach against racism because it’s hurting America primarily, but because it is an offense against God and it is an ambush to His eternal plan.
Additionally, we need church-goers to become activists, displaying the love of Christ in tangible ways that put on display the might of His grace and the extent of His love to every race. I’m not suggesting another march or a new protest, but I am unequivocally calling the Eastern District and all EFCA Churches to show love to all people by meeting them where they are and helping them in tangible, holistic ways so that they can see the incredible, divide-crossing love of Christ evidenced in us.
When events like this in Charlottesville happen, community leaders should know that they can come to an EFCA church to find help learning how to get along with people who are different. Why? That’s what Jesus did! He came to us. We were the outsiders, the aliens, the oppressed. Jew or Gentile, white, black or brown. Male and female – He came to bring us help and hope. He offered us a better way of life by following Him, living in His kingdom and according to His Word. To the degree we imitate Him, we can help others.
Unfortunately, it isn’t the case that we always get this right. When it comes to racial issues, the evangelical church in America has missed opportunities for gospel ministry for far too long and now we’re in a place where we have to prove our credibility.
Bruce Ashford, a Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary professor, wrote:
Read this last sentence slowly… “An excellent opportunity to begin rectifying the situation by speaking a good word in the midst of a bad moment.”
You have the capacity to speak and influence others, and here’s what I believe – this is a bad time into which you can bring a good word. Do it. Then follow it up with actions. Let the light of Christ shine through you in your actions.
If you’ve already been shining the light of Christ and helping show the love of Christ to your neighbors, I pray God increases your influence.
If you haven’t done anything yet, let me encourage you, do something. After all, better late than never.
For His Glory,