It has been a tumultuous week in our country, with recalcitrant difficulties pressing their way to the forefront once again: outdoor meetings were interrupted by the drone of airplanes carrying highly insensitive banners; sleep was interrupted by circling helicopters; and my conscience was again seared as another black man, this time Jacob Blake, was shot numerous times in the back.
It’s almost enough to make you join the Psalmist in crying “How long, O Lord!”
And yet, these are clarifying times as well. They help us clarify our values, commitments, and what will define us as citizens and Christians. For those of us fortunate enough to call Covenant our church home — a congregation with a wide range of perspectives — it can also be a time to make progress, especially by being in relationship with those whose opinions may differ from ours.
I was inspired by Imam Chaudhry, who, when his Muslim Worship Center here in Charlotte was surrounded by denigrating protesters this week, posted a video of them and urged his congregation to remember that "these people are not representative of all Christians." In doing so, this good Muslim man showed me what it means to be Christian.
Jonathan Sacks, Great Britain’s Chief Rabbi, writes, "The test of faith," he says, "is whether I can make space for difference. Can I recognize God’s image in someone who is not in my image, whose language, faith, and ideals are different from mine? If not, I have made God in my image instead of allowing him to remake me in his.”
To be able to reach across the boundaries of race, politics, and culture is, I believe, the most urgent priority before us. To be able to affirm the other — especially someone who sees the world differently — as a person, a child of God, and therefore holy and precious, is the clear mandate of Jesus himself. Christians in our country, it might be argued, are not taking this mandate seriously, but Jesus certainly did. We’ll explore one example (which you can read here) carefully this weekend.
I hope you will join us for this important exploration…. and invite a friend with whom you often disagree.