The old me would have seen these riots and protests through the lens of politics. What will they mean for the elections coming up both locally and nationally? Will this help my team or not? That is not my view today. The brokenness we currently see in our world is raw and very real.
Is the system broken? Of course it is. Every man-made system fails at some point. This, of course, doesn’t mean we just sit back and do nothing. We, obviously, should strive for the best and hold people accountable as most seem to be doing right now.
Our news outlets and our social media feeds are full of the hateful rhetoric that is being spewed by a few while they attempt to ignore the unity that has surfaced around this country around the death of George Floyd and the subsequent arrest of the officer that took his life.
We, as a nation, have faced a great deal in 2020. We have seen tornadoes wipe out homes, a pandemic bring everything to an abrupt stop, unwarranted deaths at the hands of bad acting cops, and now places of worship, businesses, and communities being looted and burned.
I could give you a political assessment of where we are and what this might mean for November, but I would rather offer something to you with a little more meaning. Maybe, we struggle to answer God’s commandment of loving our neighbor as our self because we don’t really love ourselves all that much. Maybe, just maybe, we have created an environment on our social media feeds that is a facade. Real life is hard. Real life brings hurts, trials, and temptations. Real life forces us to recognize that our black brothers and sisters are hurting. Real life forces us to recognize that our law enforcement officers have impossible jobs. Real life forces us to look in the mirror and realize that we, in fact, don’t have it all together.
We have a choice moving forward. Will we truly listen to those around us that are hurting? Will we assume the best of those we come in contact with? Will we provide grace even when that grace wasn’t earned or deserved? We have a choice today and every single day from this point on. Will we choose love, hate, or indifference? Only you can make that decision.
I have often thought of the words of Jesus in Matthew 22, “You shall love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” These words seem simple enough. The Pharisees just asked Jesus about the greatest commandment and He responded with a very brief summary of love your God and love your neighbor. This sounds easy on the surface, but in practice, this is quite difficult. You see, my neighbor has hurt me. My neighbor died in Minneapolis as my neighbor jammed his knee on my neighbor’s neck. My neighbor is crying today because they feel disenfranchised in a system that has robbed them for many years. My neighbor set fire to a historic courthouse in Nashville last night. You see how this can be difficult?
Our neighbors are hurting. All of them are. The question we must ask ourselves is this…how are we going to love through this? What are we going to do to see a change come that will put our country and this globe on the right path? This can certainly be assisted by members of both political parties in the halls of our State Capitols and in DC, but we will never see an ultimate shift until we truly understand what it means to love our neighbor. Will we choose to do the hard stuff? I am praying this understanding comes sooner rather than later.
posted by Andrew Wood, Executive Director