The Christian's Response in Times of Discontent
Toward the end of March 2020, the nation shut down due to a viral pandemic. Mask mandates were passed, unemployment skyrocketed due to corporations and businesses shutting down, all were encouraged to stay indoors, and churches were told to temporarily close their doors to contain the spread. In the midst of this, videos surfaced of unarmed black men being killed by the police while peaceful protests and riots began to voice and demand justice.
On January 6, 2021, insurrectionists stormed the White House. Crosses, confederate flags, MAGA banners and signs, angry shouts of vulgarity against the voting results of November 2020, and occasional bouts of violence permeated the government premise. This event was marked as the most unprecedented moment in modern US history. As a result, the two political parties are even further divided and contentious that it’s almost palpable.
In short, this country is currently in distress; we are in a time of discontent economically, socially, politically, and spiritually.
While there are many things here that merit discussion and solutions, I’ve been observing the responses from my brothers and sisters in Christ. Many are confused, infuriated, and discouraged--so much so that they have looked to the government to do something, are searching for peace, and some have even forsaken the church.
What are we, as Christians, to do? How are we to respond to these civil, political, and economic unrests?
A Gentle Call to Remember
We are the light of the world.
During this country’s dark hour, this is the church’s moment to shine forth and be reflectors of the Light of the world (Matthew 5:14,16; Philippians 2:14,15; cf. John 8:12). Last year, I was worshipping online with a sister congregation in France; during their time of lockdown and mask mandates, they still sought for ways to be the light to the world: they picked up groceries for their elderly neighbors, hosted neighborhood bible studies, prayed for/answered questions from neighbors coming to them distressed by the pandemic, and delivered cookies to essential workers.
How have we been serving our community during this pandemic? We are called to be mission- and ministry-minded people doing good works to bring others to Christ and give Him glory (Ephesians 2:10).
How are we responding to racial injustices? Christ’s church is universally diverse consisting of people of different ethnicities, languages, both sexes, and socioeconomic status. In the face of racial tension, we should use our light to be outspoken against racism and compassionate toward families who lost loved ones to brutality, for Christ died for and loves all.
We are the unity and peace people search for.
In terms of unity, lay aside the “republicans versus democrats,” “Trump versus Biden,” “mask versus no mask” mentality of division. This is not to say that participating in politics is antithetical to the Christian faith; however, if political debates and discussion causes us to behave like the world, to cause division in and forsake the church, or to insult/degrade our fellow man (who have been created in the image of God), then it’s time to temporarily take a step back from social media to refocus and recenter our heart and eyes on Christ. We are called to be united, not divided. Political affiliations should not come between our Christian fellowship or spark a heated, unfruitful debate with non-Christians.
In terms of peace, stop looking for it and look above: Christ is our peace and solution to this calamitous time (Ephesians 2:14-17). God’s peace given to His children is not like the world’s “peace” (John 14:27). It’s a peace that’s incomprehensible and inexpressible (Philippians 4:7). It’s a peace that’s still no matter our circumstances (Psalm 46:10). It’s a peace that’s perfect (Isaiah 26:3). Because God is pouring out this heavenly peace, we are to share it with the world. If Christ died to bring about peace so that we can be one as brothers and sisters, why do we let politics divide us? As Christians, we should be striving to be peacemakers with those in the body and outside the body. It is written, “blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
We are called to respond to everything that’s been occurring in a way that’s different than the world’s responses. Our first century brothers and sisters were set on fire, forbidden to publicly worship, thrown in prison, and tossed into arenas to be mauled by animals. Their response? They continued to fellowship, serve, and worship from house to house and spread the gospel even while they fled from their city (Acts 8:1-5). The church of Christ in the first century grew by the thousands everyday despite their gruesome persecution (Acts 9:31). They grew because they responded and lived in a way that told their observers “this world is not our home.” In other words, they let their lights shine and remained united despite what they were going through. May we do the same.
Hymn of the day: Instruments of Your Peace