My good friend, Angie Frame, wrote some VERY compelling words about the violent protest in Charlottesville. I encourage you to read that here.
A LONG time ago, we did a series at PCC called, “What Would Jesus Say To…” It was based on people who dominated the news at that time and were somewhat controversial AND – importantly – who’s story or circumstance could also lead to a meaningful, relevant life change for the rest of us. The last one in the series was “What would Jesus say to Osama Bin Laden”, the 911 mastermind who has since been killed by US forces.
To say that the series was potent would be an understatement. I’ve wanted to do another, current version. But our world is FAR more divided today than it was then. It’s extremely hard to talk about something in the news without sounding political. And in our world today, political means divisive. And divisive means hateful.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Jesus was many things: Compassionate. Loving. Sacrificial. Controversial.
He was also Divisive. People were (and still are) deeply divided about who, exactly, Jesus Christ is. Super Prophet or Son of God? Impostor or Emmanuel? To not understand the divisive reality of Jesus is to not understand his reality at all.
But one thing Jesus was not was violent or hateful.
He had the power of heaven in his hand, but he never used it to hurt people. When Peter tried to launch an early escape for Jesus by pulling out his sword and attacking a guard, Jesus rebuked him (and healed the guy’s wounded ear!). When his closest followers rumbled of a guerrilla-styled revolt, Jesus shook his head at their lack of understanding. His revolution would not be with military arms that fired, but with human arms that embraced. It wouldn’t be a revolution of anger, but of love. It wouldn’t change the world by conquest, but by service.
I’m not making a statement about war. That’s a different thing. I understand that sometimes we must fight. But not like this. Not like in Charlottesville.
So to my friends who want to jump in a car, drive to the mountains and start throwing down – on either side – consider this:
What would Jesus say to violent protesters? I think I know…
Cut It Out! STOP It!
Put down your mace and your glass bottles and rocks. Because these kind of shenanigans do not reflect well on Jesus Christ!
Protest? Sure. Stand up for your political viewpoint? Absolutely.
But when you throw a punch or start shoving or shoot some pepper spray or otherwise attempt to hurt someone physically, you’ve crossed a very serious line. You’re no longer acting like an American. You’re not longer acting like a follower of Jesus.
If that’s you, don’t worry. Grace and forgiveness are yours for the price of a contrite heart. Just cut it out, right now, and get in the car and come back home.