In my near thirty-years of full-time pastoral ministry, I have never witnessed such chaos, division, and pain at a national and even global level. I just read today that we are experiencing a combination of 1918 with the Spanish flu and the race riots of 1968.
With the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are learning of 22 new states experiencing a jump in new coronavirus cases. With the issue of the deep pain, anger, and outrage over racial injustice, we are learning about surveys indicating that 95% of Americans agree that the death of George Floyd was horrifically wrong, and the officers responsible should be charged with murder.
Although most Americans are united in their disgust and anger over the murder of George Floyd, many are still divided over the best path forward. Many feel a sense of hopelessness that anything will ever change in our nation, and yet herein lies the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). We are able to “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that [we] heard” (Colossians 1:23). Ours is a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
Through hope, we have opportunity even in the face of adversity. As Debasish Mridha once wrote, “Hope opens the door of opportunity and shines the way to possibilities.”
So, what is my “pastor’s plea”? To use these unprecedented times as opportunities for unparalleled possibilities. Never before in our lifetime have we been afforded such unique possibilities of building bridges, seeking reconciliation, and standing for justice.
Hasn’t God called us to “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8)? Hasn’t God declared that He “works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed” (Psalm 103:6)? Hasn’t God revealed that “we are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28)?
My plea is for us to remain centered on Christ.
My plea is for the Church to bear witness to unity and equality in all realms of life.
My plea is for us to humble ourselves and repent of any attitudes of racism or hatred.
My plea is for us to listen before we speak and empathize before we defend.
My plea is for us to focus more on building relationships than winning arguments.
My plea is for us to live out the Gospel and not just proclaim the Gospel.
My plea is for us to tell people that the greatest example of someone who brought about personal and social transformation is Jesus Christ.
My plea is for us to demonstrate a love that is patient and kind, that does not envy or boast, that is not arrogant or rude, that does not insist on its own way, that is not irritable or resentful, that does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).
My plea is for the Kingdom of Heaven to reign down here on earth.