I have to say I’m ready for this week to be over. Watching the news has been emotionally draining in ways I’m not sure I have ever experienced before.
Sunday was the first worship service at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston since a senseless shooting left nine of her members dead. Worshipers demonstrated grace and forgiveness that is only possible through the power of the gospel. “No evildoer, no demon in hell or on Earth can close the doors of God’s church,” proclaimed their pastor. Mourners of all races gathered inside and outside the church building in a powerful demonstration of support and solidarity.
Dylan Roof was trying to start a race war by attacking innocent people in the one place everyone should feel welcome and safe. His senseless, depraved act caused just the opposite–South Carolina and other states decided to remove the Confederate Battle Flag from state monuments.
I support the removal of this flag from state property. To me it is simply a familiar historical symbol I’ve seen all my life–part of the landscape here in the South. But as Russell Moore has pointed out, it represents something completely different to African-Americans.
Having said that, the anti-flag movement I’ve seen this week has reached a level that borders on insanity. Case in point: Apple has removed all Civil War video games from its app store because the Confederate soldiers in the game march under . . . the Confederate flag. It seems a gesture of peace and goodwill is quickly turning into hysteria.
Friday the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex “marriage” is a right protected under the US law. This was no surprise to me, but I was deeply grieved nonetheless (you can check out The Gospel and Gay “Marriage” if you want to know my convictions on this).
I should make something clear before I go any further: I do not long for America to return to the “glory days” of previous eras. Our history of sexual sin is as old as the country itself, not to mention our unfair treatment of racial and ethnic minorities.
But it breaks my heart to see people proudly marching to their eternal destruction, rainbow flag in hand.
Friday’s news included President Barrack Obama’s eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney (one of the nine killed in the attack), who was the pastor of the Emanuel AME Church as well as a state Senator. His thoughtful speech seemed like a sermon at times, and he surprised the attendees by leading them in Amazing Grace, a cherished hymn of the Christian faith.
Later that evening the White House would be lit up with rainbow colors to celebrate the Supreme Court’s ruling. I find these contradicting messages from our President completely bizarre, though he’s not the first politician guilty of picking and choosing only the parts of the Christian faith that suit his taste.
Both the power of God and the deceitfulness of sin have been on full display in the United States of America this week.
The Lord has reminded me of some important truths through these events. I’ll share them in hopes of encouraging my fellow believers.
1. This world and this country are not my home. Peter admonished the ancient believers to see themselves as “temporary residents” of this world (1 Peter 2:11). I’ve been reminded not to hold too tightly to anything this temporal life has to offer. I am just a sojourner, bound to see some ugly scenery on my way home.
2. Everything that I see was foretold long ago. Paul told Timothy the last days would include “difficult times” with people “scoffing at God.” He even said they “will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly” (2nd Timothy 3:1-5). Unholy acts have fulfilled holy warnings spoken centuries ago. God is not surprised–neither should I be.
3. Jesus promised His strength in the midst of a hostile world. Jesus never said following Him would be an easy path that is celebrated by the masses. He told his followers, in fact, that we will have trouble in this world. But He didn’t stop there–He reminded us that He has overcome this world (John 16:33)!
As a believer I’m called to take up my cross and follow Jesus, regardless of changes in the political wind. That’s just what I intent to do.
Scripture quotes have been taken from the New Living Translation of the Bible.