By Greg Massey
The tragic events currently engaging our attention and driving our public discourse serve as a reminder, if we needed one, that the United States is a broken nation in need of a Savior. Our country is facing a pandemic that has taken over 100,000 lives, a crisis in our cities born of endemic racism, and the divisiveness of our politics in a presidential election year. It’s a perfect storm for outrage upon outrage. Perhaps you’ve wondered, as I have, “What’s a Christian to do in these times?” I present here a draft of an answer to that question, offered as a starting point, to stimulate a discussion we should have as a community, as disciples of Christ who assemble together at Estes:
1. As Christians, we do a careful, thorough self-inventory. What identity do we wear in our hearts? What identity do we project to others? Is our identity (or idol) American nationalism? Is our identity conservative? Is our identity liberal? Does our identity reside in the Republican Party? Does our identity reside in the Democratic Party? While citizens of the United States of America are blessed to reside in a nation of political liberty and economic affluence, Christians who regularly examine their hearts, immerse themselves in Scripture, and pray through the intercession of the Holy Spirit, realize that they are sojourners living in the USA. Our citizenship resides first in the Kingdom of God. Our liberty was purchased, not by the American War of Independence, but by the sinless Son of Man who hung on the Cross. Jesus’s sacrifice freed us from sin and death so we can love and serve (Galatians 5:1, 13).
2. As Christians living in the twenty-first century, we recognize that we have a ripple-effect influence unavailable to previous generations. Social media is a powerful instrument for evil, fostering simplistic narratives that heighten our cultural and political divisions. Social media can also be a powerful instrument for healing. We can have a healing effect on Facebook or Twitter, but only if we publish posts that clearly identify us as disciples promoting reconciliation through Christ. If we’re in the process of writing a post on social media and take time to read it, then realize that the post identifies us first as a Democrat or Republican or as a liberal or conservative, the next step is simple: Press the “Delete” button.
3. As Christians, we recognize that our God, who is ultimately beyond our comprehension, whose holiness eludes us, whose power is far greater than we can imagine, created men and women in His image, and He created image-bearers who are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Psalm 139:4) and complicated, driven by multiple motivating factors, sometimes unware of why they do the things they do. The divisions in our country are as complicated as its people, deeply embedded in our history and our collective psyche. There’s a natural human desire for simplicity—to see our cultural and political battles as Good versus Evil, Us against Them. Christians recognize that the reality is different. There is pure evil in the world, to be sure, but bad people sometimes do good, and good people sometimes do bad. Christians also recognize that many of our neighbors are simply afraid. Amid division there is also hope for resolution. Despite differences of race, ethnicity, social class, and gender, Americans share common aspirations and fears as they navigate today’s uncertainties. God created complicated humans, but He also gifted them with common needs. Conversations of graceful listening and speaking can reveal that our current problems are complicated and do not admit easy solutions, that we often share common concerns, and, above all, that we share a common humanity. Those conversations can lead toward conflict resolution. Let us pray for opportunities to foster these conversations and help our neighbors see that already in their midst is the answer to our nation’s sickness.
Our Savior is the answer. Jesus is Spirit. His disciples are spirit but also flesh and blood, incarnate. Our neighbors won’t see or hear Jesus unless they see and hear Him through us.
The elders convey our appreciation to Greg for expressing so eloquently what has been on the hearts of so many these past couple of weeks. May we all continue to grow in the grace, knowledge, and likeness of our Lord Jesus.