This past weekend we were reminded – yet again – that the world that we live in is fallen and broken. People are capable of all kinds of evil and hatred which was clearly on display in Charlottesville, VA. What exaserbaets the problem is that it takes very few people to act ignorantly and hatefully to turn a city and state on its toes and demand national attention and response to one of the worst kinds of hatred: bigotry and prejudice. It didn’t take long for the hate and violence to spiral out of control claiming 2 lives and injuring dozens. A relatively small group of people in a relatively small amount of time showed the worst of who we are and what we’re capable of. Time will only tell how deep and painful the scar of this weekend will be. Sadly, it is an echo – not the source – of an ongoing problem that is rooted in something deeper than what we call racism.
Our capacity for evil and hatred is far to easy to put on display because it is embedded inside of every single one of us. It doesn’t always look like what we saw this past weekend nor what it continues to look like as the problem and responses ripple through channels of social media. But we are a capable of and inclined to our own biases, prejudices, bigotry, hatred. Ultimately, we are inclined to evil. We see it everyday in varying degrees. If we are honest with ourselves and each other we are guilty of it far more regularly that we would ever care to admit.
How should we respond? What should we do? Certainly regarding what we’ve seen and experienced in Charlottesville, VA this past weekend but also on a larger, deeper scale. How do we respond to the atrocities we see everyday in our world that are all rooted in the same source: evil?
Be slow to dismiss what seems to be a trite and cliche response. If the problem is deeper than what we see on the surface than I would contend that the same is true of the answer. There is something more to love than many people give it credit for because the reality is they haven’t experienced what love ultimately is. They may have experienced some human, worldly love that is real and impactful but falls dramatically short of what love really is. It’s like taking a regular strength Tylenol when the pain you are suffering demands a heavy does of morphine. Both are pain killers, but one is a diluted sample compared to the potency of the real thing.
Love is ultimately expressed in the person of Jesus Christ. No, that’s not a Jesus-juke. That’ the real deal. If we want to seek the real solution for the real problem we need to have real conversations about real love: Jesus.
Social reform = bandaid.
Political reform = bandaid.
Protests = bandaid.
Love = Jesus = solution
Love, true love expressed in the Lord Jesus Christ, is a message to be shared as well as a message to be lived. We absolutely need to communicate to people in this world that God loves them and created them to have a relationship with Him. The pain and hurt we experience in this broken and fallen world is the result of the sin in our lives that separates us from the God that loves us. We’ve rebelled against the Giver of Life and now suffer the consequences of that rebellion which ultimately leads to our death. No amount of effort on our part is going to right the ship or solve the problem created by sin. God’s love for all of us compelled Him to send His one and only Son Jesus to the world. Jesus lived the life you and I are incapable of living and paid the price for our sins that you and I are incapable of affording. In his life, death, and resurrection God’s wrath towards sin is satisfied and in God’s love for us we are forgiven of our sins and given the free gift of God which is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. As redeemed and reborn believers in Jesus He has now given us the ministry of reconciliation: to give and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To give and live love. In this we will find the solution to all our problems.
I am grateful that in God’s perfect timing it just so happens that we are hosting our #loveLeesburg weekend on Saturday, August 19. One week after the hateful and horrific scene was created in Charlottesville by a few people bent toward evil we already had planned to #loveLeesburg – a few people bent toward loving God and loving their neighbors. Please take note of this: #loveLeesburg is not a response to the events that transpired a few hours south of us last weekend. This is our 3rd year hosting this event in our community on the 3rd Saturday in August with the goal of giving and living the love of Jesus to our neighbors. Because of Jesus we are already compelled to love. We don’t need something bad in the world to happen to demand a response of love. We have Jesus’ love inside of us so we want to love. I’m not saying we shouldn’t respond to hate when it manifests itself in our world. But how would the narrative read in America and in the world if those of us filled with the love of Jesus lived that out on a regular basis? How would it read if our love wasn’t a response to hate but the world realized that hate is a response to love?
This Saturday 40-50 people will be sent out on at least 7 different service projects in Leesburg. Whether we’re washing cars, sorting donations for local non-profits, landscaping at the facilities of local community agencies, serving low-income housing areas, distributing bananas and water on the W&OD trail, etc. our motivation is to love people through our actions as well as with the message that Jesus has placed in our hearts.
Our heart is to #loveLeesburg. I have know that there are churches in Charlottesville that will do an amazing job loving their city in the wake of this past weekend. If every Christian regularly loved those around us where we live I can’t help but think how the American narrative, the world narrative, might just be re-written.