Following the Leader
People think Christians hate others: we hate immigrants, we hate lawbreakers (depending on which law), we hate black people, we hate gay people, we hate transgender people, etc. If we don’t say anything to correct that impression, people will assume we’re full of hate. It’s up to us to change the narrative. We have to say that we don’t wish the south had won the war so that we’d still have slavery. We have to say that we don’t think committed monogamous homosexual relationships are sinful. We have to say that we don’t think Native Americans deserve to have their sacred sites bulldozed to make way for oil. Otherwise people assume we think those things because all of the people promoting all of those ideas are calling themselves Christians.
Events like the protests against the Keystone XL pipeline, the mass murder at Pulse Nightclub, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the terrorist attack in Charlottsville, Virginia have raised awareness about significant injustices in modern American society. While I appreciate the awareness, these are not new issues. LGBT people have been attacked and discriminated against since the founding of the country. Non-white people have been under attack by rogue police (and also mainstream police), Native Americans have had their sacred sites desecrated, and the Ku Klux Klan has advocated violence and hated for centuries. The church has always been obligated to speak against these things. God’s truth hasn’t changed; our understanding of God’s truth has perhaps improved.
The church faces an embarrassing prospect of being the last institution to acknowledge the movement of the Holy Spirit. Right now, it is the secular world leading the charge against hatred and injustice. It is secular organizations that are protecting the poor and disenfranchised. And at this point, it would be presumptuous of the church to attempt to take over those efforts. The most we can do, I believe, is to repent of our complicity and complacency (that is, change our minds and decide that what have done is wrong and/or inadequate) and attempt to follow God’s movement in and through these secular groups as they fight for the justice many of us have been unwilling to pursue ourselves.