Today I cried in church. It’s been a long time since that’s happened.
It’s been a terribly difficult time in our country, in our city, in our pews, and in our organizations. Divisions are everywhere.
And I’m tired.
I am tired of political divisions. I am tired of ugly speech that now is a part of our daily lives–fighting, in person, on TV, on the radio, on social media.
I’m sure everyone’s tired, and certainly many more so than me. I sit in an office at World Relief [the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals], offering advice, suggestions, and support, but I’m not in the trenches anymore. I don’t speak to people directly who have been berated on the street or online, or who have had their property destroyed. Or worse.
There are a few smaller, less intense things that I am tired of, though.
I’m tired of keeping plastic gloves in my desk so I reduce contamination of evidence when I handle hate mail.
I’m tired of trying, often unsuccessfully, to contact the FBI about these events, which I can only imagine is rather overwhelmed with an explosion of hate crimes that are cropping up like weeds.
I’m tired of giving less than fully adequate advice when I hear from those colleagues in the field who have questions and concerns about how to keep staff and clients safe.
I’m tired when I learn, yet again, that my more public-facing colleagues receive social media lashings (to put it mildly) because they have the gall to “love one another” day in, day out, in their jobs and in their personal lives.
I’m tired when I witness congregations, ever-growing more racially and culturally diverse across our country, which are un-served and un-led, who hear nothing from the pulpit about the violence and hate directed towards them as a group, and increasingly, personally as well.
We do one of two things, we American Christians, on the whole. We lash out or we walk on eggshells. And both are time-honored, cowardly responses.
Lashing out needs little introduction, and frankly what I am most tired of. It might be tolerable if there was real, useful, Christlike action behind it. But almost never is that the case. Just open your Facebook page and take a look. You don’t need an explainer on that one.
But walking on eggshells is increasingly more problematic, as I see it. We as a Church don’t engage on topics that seem scary, or divisive, or (perhaps most of all) costly. It might cost us our reputation or our image (both of which have little actual import here on Earth, and zero import beyond). It may cost us dollars in giving to our organizations or churches–which are important but not the be-all, end-all. In fact, they are merely a means to an end, an end we will never fully arrive at if we fail to engage with and support one another when those among us are hurting, having been injured by hate.
And so I say, shame on us. Shame on me, for when I have been a part of egg-shell-walking. Shame on our Church when it does the same.
Today I find myself heartbroken.
But not defeated.
For tomorrow, I will rise. I will continue my work, as mundane as it is–lawyer work, operational work, behind the scenes work. Because I serve true servants of God. My colleagues at World Relief are the finest there are, and I am honored to serve them, and serve with them, every day. These folks don’t go into Christian development work for the big fat paycheck (😂). They do it because they have a purpose, a calling. They empower the Church to serve the most vulnerable, and they do it with great devotion and excellence.
They do it because they take the Great Command very seriously, and they will not be deterred.
And therefore, neither will I.