On Faith: Confront without compromise, love without condition
On the night of November 9, 1938, an outbreak of violence aimed at Jewish citizens swept across Germany. Homes were ransacked, synagogues destroyed, cemeteries desecrated, and sacred books burned. The sidewalks of Jewish neighborhoods were so covered in shards of glass that the night became known as Kristallnacht; the night of shattered glass.
A reporter for a London newspaper described what he saw this way: "Racial hatred and hysteria seemed to have taken complete hold of otherwise decent people. I saw fashionably dressed women clapping their hands and screaming with glee, while respectable middle-class mothers held up their children in order for them to see better."
We cannot look away when confronted by racial hatred today, as Christians did on Kristallnacht. We've already seen what this can lead to. We can't pretend that this doesn't exist just because we live here on the North Shore, insulated from the rest of the world by the drive up Highway 61.
The sin that is inherent in neo-Nazism and white supremacy is the conviction that God's love is scarce, rather than abundant. It's the sin of believing that if God loves that family, then God can't possibly also love my family. If God blesses those people, then our own might go hungry. The brokenness that skulks beneath the surface of every Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi march is the belief that God's love is bestowed on a select few, and that others must be pushed aside, by violent means if necessary.
A theologian recently stated that a mob shouting "White power" may as well be shouting "Crucify him!"
Hands raised in a racist salute may as well be pounding nails into a cross.
So, where do we go from here? How do we live in such unsettled times knowing that we are commanded to love the "outsider" just as we are loved?
I certainly don't have this all figured out, but here are three ideas to get the conversation started: We need to repent; we need to grow; we need to love. We need to repent whatever role we've played in this. We need to embrace the gospel so that we can grow into the community of faith we are called to be. We need to go out and love our neighbor as ourselves, including those whom we may vehemently disagree with.
As Christians, we are called to stand shoulder to shoulder against those who assert racial superiority in the name of God. We are compelled by scripture to protect immigrants and refugees, and anyone else whose humanity is being stripped from them. The gospel demands that we refuse to look away when our neighbor is in need, as happened on Kristallnacht, when thousands were swept away to their deaths as others looked on.
But we are called to do this in love! We are to confront evil without compromise even as we love without condition, no matter what the consequences to ourselves or our churches are. There is always enough grace to go around. There's enough for me. There's enough for you. There's enough for people of all colors, faiths, shapes, sizes and orientations.
On Faith is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders.