Heather Heyer, a 32 year old woman known by many as deeply committed to the cause of justice and being a voice for the marginalized died, tragically in Charllotesville, VA, while standing up for what she believed in a protest against the white supremacists who were gathering there on August 12, 2017. I can not fathom the shock, pain, confusion, sadness and anger her loved ones must be experiencing.
It seems as though we are living in a time when spiritual and socio-political pressures are mounting, i.e, police shootings, riots, national political uncertainty, and turmoil on the international scene. These issues evoke many questions, ideas and emotions. The socio-political and moral pressures are causing many to reevaluate their worldview, theological perspectives and interpretation of Jesus and His glorious gospel.
It is imperative that we have a biblical perspective of the various dynamics that are taking place in this nation and the nations of the earth. The various socio-political stirrings are creating opportunities for us as believers to examine our faith and see if it is the faith of the New Testament apostles or the faith as defined by our culture or our political party.
In his first epistle Peter, interpreted the social pressures in the Roman Empire as God’s discipline and purification of the church. I believe that the social pressures we are facing in this nation are in part designed to purify the church and cause her to grow and mature as clear witnesses to this generation of the Gospel
For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 1 Pet. 4:17
When I first heard about what was taking place in VA, I found myself, numb, and then annoyed, and angry and next filled with a flurry of judgments and opinions that only seemed to intensify an already growing internal storm. Faced with this conundrum I slowly began to turn my thoughts toward the Gospel of Jesus and the words of the apostles. In pondering on Jesus and His gospel, I could not but help to discover again this gloriously troubling yet grace filled reality; that Christ died for White Nationalists too, is filled with an unquenchable love for them and desires that they too come to the knowledge of the truth.
Two thousand years ago in ancient Israel there was a young Nationalist who was so fierce in his commitment to the national identity of Israel fueled by religiosity and zeal that in the name of God and country he persecuted anyone who opposed that vision. This man was portrayed as one who breathed murderous threats against the church and later he described himself as a blasphemer, a persecutor – an insolent man. His name was Saul of Tarsus, later known as Paul. Paul articulated one of the most out of this world, transcendent statements when he declared that his testimony would be a pattern for many, including many who were like he was.
“…I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exeedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all long suffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. 1 Timothy 1:12-16
The Gospel is simply, gloriously and beautifully scandalous. My prayer is that we, as those who have obtained mercy, we not respond with corresponding superiority to the white nationalists but that we cry out for the inbreaking of the gospel in VA, and in America. Who knows, there might be a Saul of Tarsus or two in that crowd. God helps us! Send revival, build Your Church and save the lost.