I’m a preacher. Sunday mornings are occupied with sermon review, prayer and quietness. My normal routine is to anchor myself at a coffee shop at least three hours before the beginning of our worship services. Since I like to be at church an hour before the service, that gives me two uninterrupted hours reading, praying, thinking and reviewing.
I was reminded recently that life in the ministry means for the most part that weekend trips are out. I don’t say that to whine, but simply to point out a reality for those in ministry – they don’t typically take over-the-weekend trips. For the pastor, one of his most important roles is preaching on Sunday mornings. They are “on” while others are off.
It’s made particularly more significant when national or world events demand our response as the people of God. On Friday, Charlottesville, Virginia erupted as protesters converged to decry the removal of a Civil War statue. These protests revealed the ugly reality and health of racism once again. From Ferguson, Missouri to Charlottesville, violence and bigotry have sought to establish themselves as the norm. These racist, hateful and exaggerated movements exist in complete opposition to the kingdom of God.
And so on this Sunday morning, I’m not only reviewing my message but rethinking it. And I’m amazed at how the message I’d already prepared – on serving – is already pregnant with significance for these current events.
No one can claim to be doing God’s will and simultaneously hate another human. From Genesis, we learn that all humanity has been created in the image of God. We are instructed constantly – from the Old Testament to the New – to love others. Whether our enemies, Samaritans (another race) or the disadvantaged (orphans, widows). Followers of God have no excuse. We are to love. Purely. Simply. Practically.
We do not love in words only. We love in deeds.
“..let us not love in word or speech, but in action and in truth.” (1 John 3.18)
It’s not either-or, but both-and. We love in word and in deeds.
We speak words of gracious truth, and we demonstrate through our wallets, our conversations, our votes and our service that all people are worthy of loving because all people are loved by God.
“The Lord.. not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3.9)
This Sunday morning… my hope is to make much of Jesus, as always. Current events do not derail that priority. Rather, they make it more urgent. We must press #BeyondCharlottesville to a unifying gospel through faith in Jesus Christ. Only He can transform our hateful hearts.