Monday, July 18, 2016

We can choose to be part of the solution

The events that took place in Baton Rouge, Minnesota, and Dallas last week have the nation reeling, leaving many feeling unsettled and fearful, and our hearts are broken for the victims and their families. Sadly, some people are using the tragedies of last week for political posturing. Others are using the events to push their legislative agendas, and that seems misguided. But I am thankful that many are looking past politics and government to promote the truth of who we are as creations of God, and to examine the heart conditions that are at the root of all hatred and violence. One of those offering real solutions is John Stonestreet, the president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Here is an excerpt from an article he wrote this week:

“Let us first and unequivocally say every human life is precious and valuable because it bears the very image of God. C.S. Lewis wrote in 'The Weight of Glory,' ‘You’ve never met a mere mortal… Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit.’

Let’s also say that (last) week’s events are a surface explosion of issues long present in our society. We’re not OK, folks, and we haven’t been in quite a while. These horrible events are not creating unrest; rather they are revealing it. Our society is weak in its middle — at the “social glue” level of local communities and civil society. And, we have a race problem. We might disagree on why, but it won’t do us any good to say it doesn’t exist. Here we are — and there’s no way out of this except by confronting it.

Third, and most important, let us proclaim, “Christ has risen!” It is true about this moment as it is about every other moment of history — good or bad.

And now, Christian, what might we do?

First, pray. I am praying for Christians tasked with talking about this to colleagues, families and neighbors on Monday. I am praying we will be Gospel-shaped in our words and tone. But mostly, I pray today for mercy using ancient, tried, and tested words: Lord, have mercy on us.

Second, we can, in the words of the Apostle James, be quick to listen and slow to speak, particularly to those with whom we agree on the Gospel, but differ in experiences as citizens.

Third, we can focus efforts on rebuilding those institutions able to address the problems we face. Government has a role, but the state cannot lead us in reconciliation, virtue formation, or trust building. God has uniquely equipped the home and the church for those tasks.

It looks bleak, but we worship the same Christ whose Gospel has brought healing to post-adultery marriages, post-riot cities, even post-genocide Rwanda. It can here, too. There is, in fact, no other place to look."

You and I may not be able to break down the mistrust that exists among the races, or the social classes, or the political parties. But you and I can choose to be a part of the solution by praying for our neighbors, believing that the same power God used to raise Christ from the dead can change our city. But don’t stop with prayer. You and I can choose to be a part of the solution by crossing the street to have a conversation, to build a relationship, to offer a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name.

We must.

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