HOW DO I RESPOND?
I imagine that by now most of us are well aware of the events that transpired in our nation’s capitol on Wednesday, January 6, and have listened to some commentary about it. How has all of this impacted you?
Amidst the death and disarray unfolding in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, my mind went to a scene in a capitol city even more famous than ours. A local commentator described it like this:
As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41–42)
Like the citizens of Jerusalem long ago, we’ve struggled mightily in the past year to discern what will bring us peace. Will more demonstrations of power or anger do it? Will more money or education do it? Will electing this candidate or that one do it? How can we shape a society where most people feel a greater measure of confidence in our institutions and real hope for the future?
For many decades now, I’ve been a curious student of both theology and politics. There is still so much I do not know and am working to sort out. There are, however, a few things I’ve come to believe with great conviction and the events of January 6 only confirm them further. I share them here, trusting you to treat them as you deem appropriate and no more or less.
1. Where significant numbers of people feel there is not justice – whether in elections, racial matters or elsewhere – we will always struggle to have peace. Therefore, figuring out and addressing what creates experiences or perceptions of injustice for others must become a greater interest for me. I know how I react when I feel that a great injustice is being done. Why should I expect others to react more placidly?
2. Where the rule of law is flouted and violence is condoned, we will always be distracted from the pursuit of greater justice. Therefore, no matter how convenient or comforting it is for my cause, I must stop providing any justification for destruction as a strategy for constructing a better world. The behavior of those crashing the capitol and attacking law enforcement yesterday has to be condemned. Lashing out often feels satisfying and self-securing to me in the moment, but an eye-for-an-eye approach is a recipe for a blind planet. It is clearly not the prescription for peace messaged and modeled by Jesus (Matthew 5:38–47).
3. Where people care more for defending themselves and their tribe than lifting all people, we will always be stuck in our pursuit of peace or justice. Therefore, I must place the love I feel for my social circle and my political party at the foot of the cross. It is there where the self-sacrificing love of Jesus reorients me. Whether you are an atheist, agnostic, or believer, can we agree that if a lot more of us lived and loved like Jesus does, our society would be better?
My main purpose in writing all this is to invite you to join me in praying for God’s will to be done in our nation and through our lives in this contentious season. God knows how we need to change. Thankfully, He has, by His Spirit, the power to change us in all the ways we need.
The big questions for me are: “Will I actually and earnestly ask God to do this?" Am I truly open to being transformed and directed by God in all my relations? Or am I mainly interested in staying the way I am, in preserving the associations I have, in keeping the points of view that have worked for me for so long? Do I want more of the same? Do I want to be a better Republican or Democrat? Or do I want more of JESUS and the kind of world that He gave His life to bring?
I want my answer to the last question to be YES and invite you to join me there. Justice, peace, love and law. In Christ, we can have it all.
We’ll be gathering this evening, Thursday, January 7, 7:00–7:30 p.m., as well as Sunday, January 10, 12:15–12:45 p.m. to pray for our country. If you’d like to join us, follow THIS LINK to a Zoom meeting room. Whether you are able to be with us online or not, you can join us in praying THIS meaningful and heartfelt prayer.
May our great and gracious God guide us forward,
Rev. Dr. Daniel Meyer | Senior Pastor | Christ Church | Oak Brook – Butterfield