Our nation is in the midst of a harrowing and difficult season. Political and ideological divides have obscured, for some, the truth that we share a common destiny and a common humanity. As disciples, we are called to live out our faith in Christ by bearing the light of the gospel in a world darkened by fear and mistrust. Especially during such troubled times as these.
Over the weekend, the FBI issued a nationwide warning of armed protests being planned in all 50 state capitols and Washington, D.C. in the days leading to the inauguration of President-elect Biden on January 20th. We also learned that the Defense Department may send as many as 15,000 national guard troops to Washington to secure the event. This, of course, comes on the heels of the storming of the US Capitol on January 6th that resulted in five deaths, including US Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died of injuries sustained in the line of duty.
By now, we have all seen the disturbing images from last week’s events. A gallows with a noose was erected in front of the Capitol. Militants in tactical gear carried zip ties with which to kidnap members of Congress and Vice President Pence. Some were armed with guns and bombs, and there were threats of execution directed against our elected officials. The ideology of white supremacy was also on display, with some in the mob wearing the symbols of that hate-driven system of belief. It seems as though law enforcement is bracing for the potential of further violence in the coming days.
Those of us who consider ourselves followers of Jesus Christ cannot be silent in the face of this assault on human dignity and decency, an imperative made even more urgent with the ongoing threat of political violence across our nation. As we approach Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, we are reminded of the words of this spiritual giant of the 20th Century: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Our faith in the One we call Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) calls us to condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of violence and intimidation as a means of attaining or retaining political power. Our faith in the One who came that we may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10) calls us to unequivocally renounce white supremacy as an ideology that is not of God. And our faith in the One who called himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6) calls us to condemn the use of misinformation to incite division and violence.
Peaceful protest is a hallmark of American political expression, a foundational right that is enshrined in the US Constitution. Moreover, political activism has been part of our faith history since the days of the prophets of the Old Testament, a tradition in which Jesus himself was raised, and a tradition in which he participated throughout his own ministry. Faithful Christians have long advocated for positions and policies on both the political left and the political right, and our church members here at Christ United span a wide range of political opinions and perspectives.
But when politics descends into violence, no matter how noble or righteous those activists perceive their cause to be, it is antithetical to the teachings of the One who called us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27), and to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). As our nation journeys through this tumultuous season, let us remember that our first and highest loyalty is to Christ. Let us be in prayer for our nation. And let us bear witness to his gospel of love and peace through our words and our actions.