Last Wednesday we watched in shock and horror as our nation’s Capitol, the symbol of democracy, was attacked and trashed by a riotous mob. It seemed so surreal. As several pundits observed it was like a scene you would expect from a Banana Republic, not the United States of America.
Religious leaders from every denomination have condemned the attack.
“The mob attack on our Capitol and our Constitution is immoral, unjust, dangerous and inexcusable,” tweeted Russell Moore, who leads the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “What has happened to our country is tragic and could have been avoided.”
“The sickening sight of rioters storming the U.S. Capitol Building as members of Congress try to carry out their constitutional duties should be condemned by all Americans. We are not witnessing a peaceful protest — this is a violent attack on our democracy,” said Jack Moline, a Rabbi who leads the Interfaith Alliance.
William E. Lori, who leads the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, released a statement with this plea.“May peace-loving Americans of good will throughout the United States come together to engender peace, reconciliation and healing in our wounded and broken nation, which remains and must always be one, under God.”
Robert Jeffress, a minister and author, who’s been a high-profile Trump supporter, tweeted only one sentence: “Disobeying and assaulting police is a sin whether it’s done by Antifa or angry Republicans.”
Evangelist Franklin Graham, suggested in a tweet that the events in Washington were a “both sides” problem: “Pray that everyone will stop the finger-pointing and realize that both parties bear responsibility for the problems we face today. Pray that they will come together and work together for the good of all of the American people.”
My facebook friend, a gospel preacher, Wilson Adams, expressed his feelings in a post under the heading “A fractured nation.” “This is not how to protest anything. Sadly, we’ve seen way too much of it in way too many cities for way too long. Neither political side can claim innocence when it comes to insurrection rhetoric-speak that fuels a violent few.”
“At the end of the day,” Adams added, “regardless of positions and feelings of anger and angst, we are Americans. I pray emotions will calm and peace is restored. Above all, I pray God’s people will lead by example. “In God we trust” must be ingrained in our hearts.”
Reflecting on the unsettling events of last week reminds me of a quote attributed to Thomas à Kempis, “All men desire peace, but very few desire those things that make for peace.”
Our call as disciples of Christ is to be peaceable. In His mountain message, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matt. 5:9). Note, this is more than just being a lover of peace, but being a person who engages in activities that promote peace.
To Jewish and Gentile Christians in the first century whose opinions and practices differed and even clashed, the apostle Paul urged, “Let us, therefore, make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Rom. 14:19).
Paul’s exhortation to Titus is sorely needed today. “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men” (Titus 3:1-2).
Over the next several days leading the inauguration of a new President, and in the weeks following, there will undoubtedly be more harsh rhetoric coming from politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle. The calls for healing will probably be unheeded by many with a partisan agenda. In that kind of climate, Christians must respond peaceably.
Being peaceable is not always easy. It involves hard work. It demands patience. Requires self-control. Elevates Truth. Exalts righteousness. Values cooperation. Forsakes self-ambition. And calls for humility, to “look out for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).
Specifically applied, let us be peaceable as demonstrated by both words and deeds. Refrain from posting on social media demeaning accusations or ugly slurs that will only incite anger. Both teachers and students in Bible classes need to avoid political comments that only engender strife. Our interactions with our friends, neighbors, relatives and co-workers need to reflect “the mind of Christ” (Phil. 2:5). Be sure your words are “full of grace, seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:6).
The words of our 40th President, Ronald Reagan, would serve us well during these turbulent times, “Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”
“Pursue peace with all people…” (Heb. 12:14).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman