My stomach churned on Sunday as I heard the news that white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville Virginia on Saturday to attend a “Unite the Right” rally. Viewing the photos of bodies battered, bloodied and bruised from the chaos saddened me to my core. I asked myself one question:
I know I should do something, but what?
As I pondered how a group that holds such horrible views can gain so such attention, I made three startling realizations:
Convictions create movements, and movements change the world- Although only a small percentage of the population ascribe to this type of racist thinking, if enough people come together with similar thought patterns, groups form. If a group gets big enough, it can shape culture and ultimately the world.
Negative attention is better than none – I have a Bernese Mountain Dog. As a breed, they have to have a certain amount of time and attention from their owners. If they don’t get that time, they easily find themselves getting into mischief. My dog purposely chews our shoes and rips up our mail left on the coffee table. Although I dislike the chewed shoe remnants I find, one thing is for sure: She wants attention and she’ll do anything to get it. When she steals a shoe or rips up a paper, she accomplishes her goal. The more we share about this rally, the more attention these hate groups receive. And like my dog demonstrates, negative attention is better than no attention at all.
The Bigger the Numbers, the Bigger the Impact- The media would have been less inclined to report on this story if there were only a small number of people present. But because word had spread about the event and proper permits were obtained, they had more than enough in numbers to accomplish their purpose.
John Stumbo, president of the Christian and Missionary alliance denomination, said in a recent statement, “It’s the Church that must continue to lead our world with Christ’s message of hope and reconciliation. At this moment in American church history, I stand with my sisters and brothers whose heritage as earth’s citizens differ from mine, but whose heritage as heaven’s citizens is the same. I stand with them in grief, I stand with them in hope, I stand with them in prayer . . . and I call on our entire Alliance family to do the same.”1
Maybe we can’t stop every rally that pops up. Maybe we can’t stop every swastika toting supremacist to stop spewing hate. But if we all agree that “love wins” and “love trumps hate” isn’t it time we demonstrate that love in tangible ways?
So, here are some takeaways:
- If a small group like this can be a catalyst for racism and hatred, can’t a large group form and have a positive influence?
- There are way more Christians that reject this ideology than there are non-Christians that accept it. If all of those Christians came together, couldn’t we form an even bigger group?
- In a tumultuous world of great uncertainty and unpredictability, God’s promises are always true: “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Church, it’s time to step up to the plate.
Here are some things we can do to respond with love to the Charlottesville rally:
1) Humble Ourselves- it is difficult to admit our nation has gotten as bad as it has, but it is true nonetheless. But simplifying the matter and placing blame divides rather than unifies. If we can admit that something needs to change, take a stand and say, “enough is enough” nothing will change. Regardless of your age, religious denomination or belief system, this is all of our responsibility. Hate is hate. It is not political or religious; it’s sin. The quicker we can realize this, the quicker we can take steps to affect the tangible change we want to see.
- Pray- The See You at the Pole Rally is a national call to parents, students, etc. to gather around the flagpole of their schools in September and pray for their schools their teachers, and the students. In recent years this event has been met with dwindling numbers. Would you be willing to spearhead a separate rally in your area where interested parties met on your town square on September 1st at 8 am (or a time of your choosing) to pray for the healing of our world? (if it’s raining, designate a place inside to meet.)If this is not possible, would you speak to the leader of your See You at the Pole Rally and ask them during that event to pray specifically for our world? Encourage non-believers who want to see change but don’t believe in God to bow their heads in silence for ten minutes during your rally time.
- Seek His Face- many of us know Matthew 5:44: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” But do you know the verse that follows it? “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.… “ We can’t control what everyone does, but we can control our response. Are you posting articles on social media that demonstrate love or pride? Do you share information and post statuses that build others up, or tear others down? Christians and non-Christians alike are faced with this decision. It’s how we respond that sets us apart. If you see an article or blog post you want to share heed Paul’s command first: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think on these things. Whatever you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, put these things into practice.” Thinking leads to praying leads to practicing (or refraining.)
On September 1st at 8 am, I’m willing to take a stand by bowing my knee in prayer on my town square. Will you join me?
Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor’s wife and mother. She has been published over one hundred times in places such as Charisma Magazine, crosswalk.com and Christianity Today’s website Gifted For Leadership. She also teaches writers’ workshops for various places such as the Montrose Christian Writers conference. She is a member of the Christian Author’s Network and Advanced Writers’ and speakers Association. Her newest book, An Invitation to the Table explores the biblical concept of hospitality. For more info, please visit her website at www.michellelazurek.com