In the wake of events like those that recently took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, we are forced to wrestle with the darkest parts of the human condition—a darkness that isn’t only seen in the events themselves, but in the pain and backlash which follow.
These moments peel back the veneer of progress and expose the deep wounds that have yet to heal. Looking at the division and hatred that still exists in the United States, is like looking underneath the biggest and richest house on the street only to find it infested with termites.
Racism of any kind is intolerable, horrendous and unacceptable. For one group of individuals to form an opinion of superiority over another is the vilest form of pride that exists—it is straight from the devil of hell. I suppose that’s why C. S. Lewis said that Pride was the fountainhead of all sin. Pride, whether in the overt form of outspoken extremists or hidden in the subtle voices that reside in our own hearts and minds, is a black seed of spiritual cancer.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to pause during moments like this and allow the massive wave of energy that accompanies such a tragic event to filter through the truth of the gospel. That doesn’t mean I condone such an act, nor does it imply complicity. While celebrities and politicians and social media warriors take the airwaves, while protestors destroy statues, and while blame gets flippantly tossed across every aisle, I pause.
Before forming a thorough response or allowing my emotions to deceive me, I choose to hit my knees in humble submission to a God that detests these things more than I do.
It’s through that lens that I write the following.
This is a Spiritual Problem
This is a spiritual problem.
Events like those in Charlottesville are the expression of a black seed that has grown in infertile soil—they are the byproduct of spiritual poverty. What you see is the external manifestation of an internal issue. Instead of addressing the physical, we must attack the problem at its source.
The traditional American reaction is twofold. One seeks to solve the problem with money and/or legislation. That line of thinking has proven ineffective. More money and better laws can certainly help a cause, but they can’t change someone’s heart.
The other relies on man’s own strength. When celebrities and media types rally together with a cry of unity, it temporarily inspires us, but that inspiration is fleeting. Our willingness to come together in the name of unity and peace is the beginning, but on our own power and with our own understanding, we are not capable of unity and peace.
A spiritual problem requires a spiritual solution.
Bigger Than the Church
Hatred and racism and cannot take root in a heart that is filled with the grace and love of Christ Jesus. Period. But it’s very true that hatred and racism reside within the walls of our institutional churches. In fact, Sunday is likely the most segregated day of the week. How is that possible?
For years, the institutionalized church has been seen as the vehicle and vessel of God’s work in the world. And in the name of Jesus, the church has done an incredible amount of good. But spirituality is not the responsibility of the church, it’s our responsibility. Just like Gold’s Gym provides a location and the resources to maintain your physical health, the church provides the same for your spiritual well-being.
There are plenty of unhealthy people with memberships to Gold’s Gym. The same could be said for the church. When individuals fail to take responsibility for their own personal relationship with God and learn to see Him as a true Father, they detach themselves from the design.
The reality is that spirituality and faith are personal matters. And when we make it personal, we become the vehicle and vessel for God’s work in the world.
Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruit.” (Matthew 7:16) What does your fruit say about the God you believe in?
Wake Up Faith
For years, we’ve heard the message, “Jesus saves”. That is the heart and centrality of the gospel. It’s good. It’s necessary. And it needs to continue. But I’m afraid that declaration has become so familiar that we’ve forgotten what it means to actually live from that conviction.
There’s something beyond salvation that professing Christians need to consider.
If our question to the world is, “Do you believe that Jesus saves?” Our question to ourselves should be: Why are we here after we’re saved?
This is a big question—one that many of us fail to wrestle with. While most answer with a list of religious duties and a call to evangelism, what does that really look like?
We are to navigate life by absolute and uncompromising faith in God. As Zondervan author Kevin Adams writes, “Faith is the dividing line between all that pleases God and all that cannot.”
Are you as concerned with developing your faith as you are with developing your financial portfolio, your business endeavors, or your physical well-being?
Are you more concerned with defending God, or seeking Him?
We must pause with questions like these and let them sink beneath the surface of wrote answers that reek of man’s glory and wisdom.
Faith isn’t about what church you attend, or what denomination you belong to, it’s about submitting and surrendering your understanding and your will to the God who sent His Son to die for you. Faith is the foundation that we must build upon and the giant we must awaken.
If Jesus was wholly crucified, you cannot live in partiality to Him.
Crazy for the City
The events in Charlottesville come at an interesting time. It’s no secret that church attendance is declining and the landscape of the institutional church is changing. But rather seeing this as a negative, I believe it points to the fact that the soil of the American heart is ripe for seeds.
People desire meaning. They want hope. Their hearts burn for purpose. And there is no meaning or hope or purpose as satisfying as uncovering your “Why”, thriving in your gifts, and living the life of impact you were created for.
It is time for the people of God to come together for the kingdom of God—on earth as it is in heaven—and sow seeds. We must stand on the shoulders of great men and women and continue that work.
We cannot let the termites of fear, hate, and apathy destroy our foundation.
Our churches need strengthening and our cities need revival. And that begins with individuals. We must tether the gospel to our individual gifts, talents, and passions so that we can live the kingdom-building life of impact we were created for.
I don’t live in Charlottesville, Virginia but I do live in Wilmington, North Carolina. I can’t control the evil that exists in the world, but I can choose how I will respond.
On Wednesday, August 30th, we will host “Crazy for the City: A Gathering for Spiritual Awakening in Southeastern North Carolina and Beyond.” Join us for an evening full of inspiring testimonies, encouraging stories, and a challenge to end spiritual poverty.
If you’re in Wilmington or the surrounding area, please join us.
To my Christian brothers and sisters, the time is now.