David and I recently traveled to Virginia. David was attending a seminar on President Woodrow Wilson, and I used the trip as an excuse to visit my sister and Brother-in-law, who live in Earlysville. Earlysville is a tiny place tucked on the edge of Charlottesville, Virginia. It is home of the University of Virginia, that beautiful and highly esteemed university founded by Thomas Jefferson. College sports fans, as well as academics know about UVA. Charlottesville is a college town , teaming with progressivism and plenty of activity night and day.
We were stunned, as was the country, when violence broke out in Charlottesville between White Separatists and Opponents. Such hatred doesn’t seem to fit with the vibrant community of Charlottesville. But there it was – reminding us again of the increase in hate related crimes and abject acts of racism our nation has been experiencing.
Where is Christ in all of this? Violence towards The Other is nothing new. Every century is filled with the hatred spewed out towards those seeking social justice. The scriptures are filled with stories demonstrating what happens when fear, jealousy, selfishness and hatred take over. From Cain and Abel to the death of James, the brother of Jesus; from the enslavement of the ancient Hebrews, to the jailing and persecution of Paul, the worst human characteristics work to drown out what Christ calls us to be.
Isaiah reminds us that we cannot allow ourselves to fall into patterns of hatred – nor allow hatred to grow. We are called to stand for the Love of God and one way that we do that is by working to correct injustice and to work to change the minds and hearts of those who cannot see others as their brothers and sisters. It is not easy to do. “But those whose hope is in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not grow faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) Prayerfulness is the path to growing our strength and wisdom. Speaking out and acting to defend those who have been left out of the blessings of a bountiful country is God working through us.
Pray for those who are victims of hatred, fear, selfishness and greed. Humbly and lovingly work for justice. Also pray for those whose hearts have been darkened by perverse qualities that lead them to despise those who are different from themselves. Racism, ethnocentrism, hemophilia, and gender bias are not the path that Jesus calls us to.
Speak out – let others know that they can soar on eagles’ wings by crushing those baser instincts that call us to violence. God’s love is more powerful than fists.