Living Peaceably With Everyone
I've been watching with interest this week the unfolding story of a viral video that created a firestorm of controversy.
The initial video of a confrontation between high school students and a First Nation protestor ended up making the rounds on all of the cable news networks, and all over the internet where it caused so much outrage that some of the students in the video received death threats.
In the days that have followed, however, more video was released, and reporters uncovered additional eyewitness accounts that painted a slightly nuanced portrait of what happened that day.
Cable news outlets began stumbling over one another to report on the additional interviews, statements, and videos in an effort to walk back their initial stories.
It is clear is that there is definitely more to the story than what was portrayed in the original video that was released from what has been characterized as a "fraudulent" Twitter account (an account that has subsequently been suspended).
And proponents of each side of this story all claim their side of the story to be the truth.
What can't be disputed, however, is what the entire story reveals about us as people.
The whole incident was charged with anger, resentment, prejudice, lack of understanding, fear and hatred. It highlighted how we are still so very divided--some might say hopelessly so. For me, it also highlighted something troubling about how Christians present themselves in these divided days.
As I watched all of this unfold, I thought about what my responsibilities are as a Christian in moments of tension and division. I thought about this because it was widely reported that the students who were part of the incident claimed to be Christians.
The Apostle Paul once wrote the following exhortation: "Do all that you can to live at peace with everyone."
Perhaps if those of us who say that we follow Jesus actually did all that we could to live at peace with everyone, moments like the one in question wouldn't happen with such frequency, or maybe not at all.
Perhaps we wouldn't provoke others into arguments. Perhaps we wouldn't put ourselves in situations where we have to try to explain away what is perceived at first blush as bigotry and hatred.
The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, "If you want to know if a man is religious, don't ask him, observe him."
I think this is a moment when followers of Jesus need to be preaching louder with their actions than with their words. We need to be called to faithfulness when it comes to the way we present ourselves. Because if our actions cause others to stumble, it doesn't matter one whit what we say.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.