A quick note to start: If you find yourself here and you're a Christian, welcome! I have some thoughts for you to wrestle with about what our role is during all the turmoil of 2020. If you're here and you're not a Christian, welcome! I believe there's something for you here, too. Christian or not, I encourage you to read this post with an open mind, an open heart, and a desire for unity.
It can be so hard to find your footing in 2020. Emotions are high, opinions are strong, and so much of the undercurrent is full of justifiably righteous anger. Black lives DO matter. Wear a D@MN mask. Protect others. Protect your own. Fight for freedom. Fight for justice. Fight for unity? Some days, it can feel too complex. Too big. Too multifaceted to know who's right, who's wrong, and where to stand.
I've had several conversations lately with friends asking those questions - What do I do? What do I say? Where do I stand? Is anywhere safe to plant my feet? Goodness - I spent weeks at the beginning of June asking myself the same questions before I remembered my calling and found sure footing again.
I would like to put forth the idea that it's not about right or wrong. There are too many shades of grey here. Instead, I would like to remind you, Brothers and Sisters, what our calling is. But first, let's start with what our calling is not.
We are not called to the role of the Father. God the Father is the bringer of Justice. Of Vengeance. Of Judgement. The ultimate decider of right or wrong. As it says:
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.
Romans 12:19, referencing Deut. 32:35
But it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.
It is so easy to want to take that role upon ourselves. To decide who's right and who's wrong. To pass judgement against those who have committed crimes. But that's not what we're called to. No, we are called to leave that in God's hands, trusting and believing that He will make all things right in due time.
A quick aside here: this is not to say we shouldn't have a system that prosecutes criminals, protects victims, and upholds the cause of the innocent. We need those things! This is referring specifically to the role we play as individuals towards those around us. Make sense? Okay. On to the second thing we're not called to:
We are not called to the role of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit speaks to us and moves in us to convict and move us towards becoming the people God has called us to be. While we are called to encourage one another to be our best selves, we are not called to pursue that through convicting others of their wrongs, shortcomings, or failings. In our own dimness of vision (1 Cor 13:12), the chance that we would push someone else towards shame instead of repentance and growth is simply too high. The role of conviction belongs to the Spirit:
And when he (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment
Furthermore, taking the role of conviction upon our shoulders would often create division and distrust rather than the unity we are called to pursue as followers of Christ (1 Cor 1:10, Phil 2:2, Gal 3:28). So, if we're not called to the role of the Father (judgement) or the role of the Spirit (conviction), what are we called to?
Reader, we are called to perpetuate the ministry of Christ. To put it simply, we are called to love:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another
That's it. So simple. And in some ways, so easy to practice. It's easy to love those who love us. And, for many of us, it's even easy to love the marginalized. The outcast. The underdog. The abused. But what about the wealthy? The haughty? The one who victimized the marginalized? We're called to love them, too (Matt 5:43-48).
I tackled this to some extent in my post on Cancel Culture, but I want to expand on it a bit here. We are called to love someone regardless of if they deserve it or not for one very simple reason: that's the way Christ loves us -
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us
We were undeserving. But, while we were still undeserving, He chose us - He chose love.
When we love someone, regardless of if their actions are deserving of it, we tell them they matter. They have value. They have worth. They have a place where they belong. And, by that small act, we invite them to step into that place. We invite them to become better. We invite them into the forgiveness, love and freedom of Christ. No other action can do that. Judgement doesn't extend an invitation. Conviction doesn't extend an invitation (not by itself). Only love invites someone to become more.
Okay, so that's great and all, but at this point you're probably asking what are some practical ways we can love? Let me preface this by saying these are all suggestions that I have personally come to - you may land in a different place. And that's okay! What matters is you're asking the question.
First suggestion: wear a mask! It may or may not do anything (I'm not her to debate the science of it). But, putting it on in today's environment says to the people around you "You matter to me. Your health. Your safety. Your family. They matter to me." That alone makes it easy for me to decide to put one on. Next suggestion: carve out time to just listen. Everyone is struggling right now, and often with so many things beyond what a normal year would bring. Sit. Listen. Just be a space where they can let the good, the bad, and the ugly out without judgement. Third, be uncomfortably honest with where you're at! Nothing (and I mean nothing) is normal in 2020. Be candid about where you are, what you're struggling with, and what you need. Not only does it show love to the people around you, it opens up the door for them to love you well, too.
So, where do we stand? Firmly planted in love.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus