I’m in a conundrum. Two topics weigh on my mind, and I only have 500 words to do express them both: Growth Groups and the incidence in Charlottesville.
Fall signals Growth Growths resuming again, and I want to encourage everyone to be a part of one. This community of small groups is important to the people of Grace Redeemer and Grace Redeemer, herself. On the other hand, the events of this past weekend, the vitriol and hatred, the lack of tolerance, love or respect people have for one another in our world cannot go unnoticed.
Growth Groups are a place where fellowship flourishes: People pray, learn, and share together. The body of Christ is built. As Paul writes, you are one body in Christ, and each of you is a part of it (I Corinthians 12:27). The church is built on this as its foundational principle. Don’t just be an anonymous member of the church; be a part of the body, rejoice with others, mourn with others. He further strengthens the concept, “if one part of the body suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (I Corinthians 12:26). No one should be alone to either rejoice or suffer. We are meant to be united with other believers. Growth Groups are places where we can work through tough questions about what divides us, what makes it hard to see God in the events of the world. They foster relationships that dispel stereotypes and reveal that we’re all sinners at the core but united in Christ.
If you’re in a Growth Group and know someone who isn’t, invite him/her in. If you’re not in a Growth Group and want to be in one, talk to me or email Teresa and we’ll help you get connected.
Continuing with the thought about fostering relationships…
I don’t know about you, but I am wearied of the hatred and vitriol that is rampant among those who fail to be kind. Yes, there are injustices in our society. As Christians, we have a responsibility to fight against them. Not for a second do I support white supremacy, black supremacy, Asian, Hispanic or Indian supremacy. We are all guilty of sin. Christ did not die for any group other than sinners.
There are people rioting in the name of peace. We cannot support people who hate others simply because of ethnicity, color, age, belief or sex. The question we have to ask is how do we deal with people who act like this.
The Apostle Peter writes, “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:17).
So, the question becomes, what is our responsibility in the midst of all the vitriol?
Let me suggest some guidelines that can serve as catalysts for further conversation, perhaps even in Growth Groups.
- We will have differing opinions.
- We cannot allow injustice.
- We cannot be silent.
- We must honor God.
- All people are created equal in the sight of God.
- Violence as an expression of opinion is wrong – whether celebrating a championship game or political/moral outrage.
- There is an appropriate time to “not answer a fool according to his folly” (Proverbs 26:4).
There are probably more but let’s use these as a guideline. First and foremost, in my opinion, we must honor God and take action against those who promote violence, whether white supremacists, advocates of killing police, anti-Semites, et al. In cases where it is possible, we must engage in conversation (i.e., giving respect to people). In doing so, we must attack the problem, and not the person, using only language that is helpful. As Paul writes in Ephesians 4:29,”Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Step one in combating vitriol and hatred is to engage.
I am well past my word count. But let’s let this be an opening to a conversation about how we can remain steadfast to God, confront evil, and be a testimony to the world.
Ken Lont (our Executive Director) and his wife, Judy, have been attending GRC since it first opened its door in 1999.