1801, 2021

MLK: A Model of a Christlike Heart

January 18th, 2021|Blog|

On January 30, 1956, an unidentified person(s) drove up to the Montgomery, Alabama home of Martin Luther King, Jr., and threw a bomb on his front porch. King was speaking to a packed church at that moment. King’s wife, Coretta, and their seven-month-old daughter, Yolanda, were inside. Thankfully, though the home was damaged, his family was not harmed. Civil rights tensions were already thick in the air when the bomb went off, and the explosion flung wide shrapnel of further anger and fear. The explosion was a flashpoint that would test anyone’s heart. Specifically, it tested King’s passionate commitment to non-violence. News of the bombing spread quickly, and an angry crowd soon gathered outside King’s home. A matter of minutes after his home had been bombed, standing feet away from the site of the explosion, King preached non-violence. “I want you to love our enemies,” he told his supporters. “Be good to them, love them, and let them know you love them.” Jesus said: “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). What kind of heart are we to imagine King had? After such an attack, from what quality of being came instantaneous words of love and goodness? We live in a moment in which our country seems to be exploding. We need King's example of Jesus’ teaching more than ever. It is so easy for me to feel self-righteous anger. Loving, forgiving and working for the good of people I would rather simply condemn is much harder. This doesn’t mean we don’t name things as they are. It means that we want our reactions to people to be Christlike. On MLK Day, I give thanks for the model of his Christlike heart, from which flowed remarkable generosity. We need it today. May understanding, forgiveness, love and peace flow. May it begin with me. May it spread to every broken relationship and among political rivals. Perhaps [...]

1501, 2021

Nationalistic Violence: Not in the Name of Jesus

January 15th, 2021|Blog|

The fair-sounding [seemingly pure] word “Patriotism” is often used as a cloak for the basest and meanest conduct.—Reuben A. Torrey, first Dean of Biola University I am thankful that President Trump has called for the end of violence. Sadly, though, the attack on the Capitol may not be the end of extremist violence. The QAnon conspiracy is growing in the aftermath of the uprising. Therefore I would like to speak into these troubled times by commenting on the last week and suggesting a way to think about the weeks to come. Not in the Name of Jesus Insurrection is always out of bounds. Done in the name of Jesus, it is especially grievous and anti-Christ. The extremists who attacked the Capitol do not walk in The Way of Jesus. Yet, violence was cloaked in his name as insurrectionists bore crosses, pictures of Christ in a MAGA hat, JESUS SAVES banners, and other corrupted markers of faith. The Church cannot get more deceived, divided, or violent than this: a group of Christians, thinking they were doing the right thing, stormed the capital while men and women chanted “Hang Mike Pence” in the name of patriotism. It was among the most egregious, anti-Christian events of my 45 years as a Christian leader. The violent and the hateful can never be associated with the person or aims of Jesus. Christlikeness, which sets aside unrighteous anger, would never engage in the name calling that is common in our civil discourse, much less murder (Matthew 5:21, 22). Denouncing Violence and Shaping the Future I do not like making public statements. I have rarely done so in my career, but the Church needs to speak up in this moment. We do so not as an institution scrambling and elbowing for a place at the table of political power, but as a neighborly example of the non-violent ethic of the New Testament. We can start by saying [...]

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