Responding to the El Paso, TX & Dayton, OH shootings
"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!' And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, 'Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.'" (Revelation 7:9-12)
The recent violence we witnessed in our nation this last weekend in El Paso and Dayton is utterly horrific and saddening. In its wake, our nation has yet again seen political and social division rise to the fore due to the shock and increasingly unsurprising nature of the events. This division has pitted many against one another as they refuse to meet in the middle and understand one another. We as the church have a different mandate from the Lord, however, and that is to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). While many in the world devalue and hate one another in various ways, we are called to exemplify the peace of Christ. In our present situation, I believe that there are two ways (amongst many) that we can do this.
The first is to love our neighbors as ourselves. Even if that neighbor has different views on religion, gun rights, immigration, etc, we are to show them the love of Christ and display his light. This is non-negotiable for Kingdom-life in Scripture. Rather than surrounding ourselves with others who agree with us, let us reach across the proverbial aisle and humbly dialogue with those who are different than us so that we may begin to develop empathy and understanding.
The second is to condemn all hateful language and ideas toward other races or nationalities. Many of the mass-violence crimes in America in recent years have been motivated by White Nationalism and other racist ideologies. Racism and prejudice have no room in Christ’s church. He is the King of all "nations, tribes, peoples, and languages" (Revelation 7:9-12) and sees no race as better than another. As racial tension sadly grows, may we be conduits of peace that condemn racist ideologies and declare the gospel of the God of Peace that transcends our differences, looking ahead to the day when all things will be made new.