Dear friends in Christ,
As I’ve been watching the news like many of you, I have been trying to puzzle out meaning and direction. What does all this mean? Where are we headed?
Of course, I don’t know. But I’ve been reflecting on how the global pandemic and the calls to end white supremacy are exposing some long-standing, deep problems in our society, if not in human nature itself.
As a Christian, I uphold the view that we are all sinners whose freedom from sin comes only by the free gift of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Left to our own devices, we will nearly always be selfish. God’s grace working in us can, however, lead us to live a transformed life. One of the signs of a life transformed by Jesus Christ is that a disciple is less selfish.
Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:12-13). Did you catch that? We are meant to love one another selflessly and sacrificially, because that’s how Jesus loved us. Lest we miss it, Jesus tells us that love might demand our very life for the good of others. Jesus calls us to the complete opposite of selfishness.
It seems to me that America has been overtaken by a cult of selfishness. This is not partisan, though I have my own thoughts about particular ways this plays out. Suffice it to say, our culture does not encourage sacrificial love. We are encouraged to wall ourselves off from others in imagined safety. We are encouraged to accumulate vast amounts of resources, leaving others to fend for themselves. We are encouraged to demand our own rights rather than looking first for the welfare of all, especially the least, the last, and the lost.
We Christians must reject selfishness. We know that our life of obedience to God’s commands must be rooted in loving God and loving our neighbors.
So, then, what are we to make of the increasing fractures in our society?
Quite simply, the answer is love. Not sentimental, sweet love, but love that is fierce and all-consuming. This love will demand that we get involved. This love will not permit us to turn away from the needs of others as if there were such a thing as “someone else’s problem.” Christian love means action, most certainly including fervent prayer. Christian love means getting right into the thick of it, wherever the need is great.
My hope for this time is that, somehow, the pain and division we are seeing laid bare will call us as a society to do better, to be better. My hope is that the church will be jarred from its complacent reliance on the privilege of Christendom to renounce the evils of empire. I hope the church will regain its courage to speak in the public square with a voice of justice, righteousness, mercy, and grace.
Where do we begin? Study the scriptures. Pray. Spend time (perhaps online!) with your church. Pray some more. Let God direct you. I am praying that God will show me how to use my own gifts for the good of the world to the glory of God through the love of Jesus and by the power of the Spirit.
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This series was made in partnership with Trinity Institute in 2016 based on their 2016 conference, Listen for a Change: Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice. Courses are built on lectures by some of our leading teachers on the subject of race in America.
- Spirituality and Racial Justice with Michael Curry
- Whiteness and Racial Justice with Kelly Brown Douglas
- Theology and Racial Justice with J. Kameron Carter
- Racism and Racial Justice with Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
- Reparations and Racial Justice with Jennifer Harvey
This series is for those looking to deepen their understanding and conversations on racial injustice.
Listen to today’s Forward Day by Day reflection on the Forward Day by Day podcast. Find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast and end your day with the Evening at Prayer podcast. Available anywhere you listen!
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