Jesus Would Have Us Tell The Truth

It's been a difficult week for all of us.  

This new year, which we imbued with so much hope and promise, began ignominiously with a riot that took place in our nation's capital--a riot that took the lives of five people, and forever stained this moment in our shared history.  

By all accounts, it could have been a lot worse.  It appears now that many of the people who breached security and entered the Houses of Congress had evil intent, and were only narrowly thwarted from further deadly violence. 

I say this as a matter of fact, not as a way to stoke further division.  No matter what our political bent might be, none of us should hesitate in condemning these actions. 

But the question before anyone who calls themselves a follower of Christ should now be, "What is the proper 'Christian' response to all of this?"  

It would seem there is an easy answer, right? After all, Jesus gave his followers a blueprint of sorts for these kinds of moments:  

"Love one another..."  
"Don't repay evil for evil..."
"If someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn to them the other cheek..."
"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you..."  

In other words, Jesus would have us act with non-violence in both word and deed.  Jesus would have us drop our weapons, stop the cycle of violence, and offer love for hate, blessings for cursing, intercessory prayer for those who rage against us.  

As much as I struggle to live into the hard truth of Jesus' own words, I know that I must try---even when the people who are raging, cursing, and striking also claim to follow the same Christ that I follow.  

And that is the rub in all of this.  Because so very many of the people who attended the rally that day last week undoubtedly would self-identify as Christian.  

In fact, Christian music blared at the event.  Christian pastors addressed the crowd, firing them up.  At some points, the rally took on the language and tenor of a tent-revival meeting. 

Here's what I firmly believe... If there is to be any kind of reconciliation in our society in the coming weeks and months, we must all be willing to face the truth.  It begins with this:  

There was neither Christ nor the Gospel in anything that was said at that event, and certainly not in anything that happened that day.  

For those of us who would follow Jesus through these difficult times, we have to hold on to his words, his teachings, his example, and ultimately the sacrificial way that he lived and loved.  

Jesus acted selflessly and peacefully in his responses to rage and violence.  But he also did not hesitate to tell the truth---to hold a mirror up to those who would hide behind a religious veneer in order to mask their true intent.  

We must do this because the world needs to know what it means to truly be a follower of Christ.  We must do this because the images that are being burned into the minds of so many emerging generations are like the ones they saw from the rally-turned-riot last week.  

We must do this because Jesus demands it of us... and more besides.  

May you find the courage to speak the truth in love about what it means to you to follow Jesus.  May you live in such a way that you embody Christ to the world.  May you be filled with the spirit of hope that comes when the light of truth shines on us all.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen.  

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