I count it a great blessing to be a citizen of the United States of America. We enjoy the comforts and opportunity of great prosperity. And most of us have grown up knowing true freedom of conscience, speech, and choice. It is a freedom we have come to expect and have definitely taken for granted. But it is a freedom that comes with a price. True freedom can't be exclusive to only those who agree with us. And as a result, our open society allows for troubling encounters and social conflict is always just around the corner.
When the arena of ideas and expression is as wide-open and uninhibited as ours is in America, all sorts of foul people and destructive ideas will make their way into the mix. And the greater the division and chaos in our nation, the more people or groups like Richard Spencer and Antifa start "licking-their-chops". But by God's grace, the preservation of hope in our nation is the light and salt of Christ's church spread throughout our land.
We Christians, however, do come in a variety of temperaments. Some are fighters and some are more conciliatory. But it is important that all of us, no matter our inclinations, seek to be filled and led by the Spirit of God. Jesus declared, "Blessed are the peacemakers". Therefore our first obligation is to pray and be a calming, truth-speaking presence across our county.
There may be times we join others and take to streets in protest. I have done so many times against abortion. But, my encouragement would be to steer clear of the speaking event at the performing arts center this Thursday and encourage others to do so as well. The less attention Mr. Spencer and any radical protest groups get the better. I believe the goal of both groups is not meaningful dialogue for positive change. It is to incite more chaos and gain more attention.
I would encourage you to choose a meal or even one of the next two days to fast and pray for a movement of God in Gainesville. Pray that God would thwart the efforts of Satan, unite the hearts of believers, and unite citizens of different colors and backgrounds around a common desire for racial reconciliation and the peaceful expression of our beliefs as Americans.
Secondly, on Thursday, be a calming and confident influence on your workplace, home, or school. If the opportunity presents itself, take a few moments to pray with a couple of co-workers of friends or even someone who you know is struggling with worry. Be the hands and feet of Jesus wherever He has you.
Thirdly, be prepared to give an answer for the hope of Christ that is in you. Others may corner you on what you believe and why. Remember that Jesus identified Adam and Eve as the common ancestor of all races. And all humans are of equal value in the eyes of God because they all bear His image.
And fourthly, be sensitive to those who may have experienced racism of some kind in their lives. It is not a day to make sure everyone knows you're right and they are wrong about racism in America. It is a day to let people know that Christ died to bring us all into one redeemed humanity as brothers and sisters in the family of God. Jesus is our only hope. He made the ultimate protest against all sin and racism on the cross. And He built the only way we can all ultimately find peace.