By now you know that a small group of torch-bearing white supremacists converged on Lee Park in Charlottesville to remind us they don’t want brown people in America. This situation was on my mind as I sang about the love of Jesus in church yesterday and my heart was filled with hope for America.
Practically speaking, I do try to have a hopeful stance because we live in an amazing country and history is on the side of those who love freedom. Furthermore, I am a grandmother and that job description includes having hope that our nation will be safe for my grandchildren.
Spiritually speaking, I turn to a favorite psalm when I feel discouraged by the racial tension in America.
But as for me, I will always have hope. I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness , of your salvation all day long. (Psalm 71.14-15)
And at these times I think of my great-great grandmothers, though I don’t know their names. I want to believe they had hope for me and for America. I rejoice that their prayers have been answered because the nation that hated them is a very different place – a better place – than it was when they toiled over cotton or nursed the massa’s babies.
And so I prayed in church and my hope grew as I realized that eventually the following things absolutely will happen.
1. Some haters will repent and change. Jesus lived and died to give each of us an opportunity to put on a different kind of white robe some day. I have no doubt that a percentage of yesterday’s protesters will one day regret they ever waved a Confederate flag in public; they’ll regret their Nazi tattoos and pay to have them removed; they’ll be ashamed when they realize they’ve planted seeds of ignorance and hate in their families. They’ll join the ranks of social justice warriors with a testimony of transformation.
Since God allows the sun to shine on evil people, I refuse to lose hope for them. My mansion might be next to theirs one day, and certainly neighborhoods in heaven aren’t segregated.
2. Christ-followers will also repent and change. This is already happening. Many Christians are realizing that Jesus lived and died to give us an opportunity to let our little lights shine. We’re no longer afraid to add social justice to our list of personal causes even if it means losing friends and annoying our relatives; churches are hosting reconciliation events; political activists have forsaken their dependence on the government to do what only God can do: change hearts and minds. So we refuse to endorse our political candidates with more zeal than we endorse our Savior.
We’re taking these words of Jesus seriously:
Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are the merciful.
We reject pride and arrogance and clothe ourselves with humility. We extend grace to those who are ignorant, those who make mistakes, and those who rant on social media.
Why? Because that’s how we let our lights shine.
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5.14-16)