By Charles A. Fowler
President, Carson-Newman University, Jefferson City
The violence that took place at Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 is indefensible. It is an egregious violation of law and an extremely sad chapter in the history of our nation. Regardless of how justified some people who take such extreme and destructive actions may feel, violent events like this deserve to be condemned and hopefully those who planned and perpetrated those acts will face the rule of law.
Sadly, what we saw in Washington, D.C., is an escalation of many events that have taken place in our country over the last few years. It is heartbreaking that on a daily basis news stories inform us about violence that is destroying communities and taking lives all across our nation.
These events confront us with the sobering reality that our nation is in crisis and has been for some time. Many no longer value human life. Others are blind to the presence and painful cost of racism. Many fail to recognize the importance of community.
Indeed, divisions of many kinds increasingly segregate our society. The erosion of compassion, patience and honor is having devastating results. Matthew 24:12 provides an analysis of our day – “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.”
As I reflected on these many painful realities, I concluded that those who are Christian have two important decisions facing them today. How will we respond to the events of Jan. 6? How will we conduct our lives to provide an example of a better, more honorable way to live? How can we reflect the hope and promise of a life committed to Jesus? Jesus provided a roadmap to follow on days like today in Matthew 22:36-39:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
Love is God’s way forward. Not just any kind of love, but a Christlike love. Personally, I want the truths of this passage to define my life and all who bear the name of Christ. We should not despair or lose hope. I think we should pray and then put feet to our prayers. The people perpetrating these horrendous events in our nation are not exhibiting Christian behavior. They demonstrate little evidence of Christian character in their conduct.
Perhaps, many do not know Christ and have not surrendered their lives to Him. So let’s pray for them to experience Christ and receive His life-changing salvation. Let’s pray for a spirit of love and reconciliation to blanket our country. If we had such a spiritual awakening in America, it would change the course of our nation.
My prayer is that followers of Jesus Christ will choose to live and love like Christ. Our world not only needs to hear the promise of new life in Christ, they also need to see it lived out in the lives of Christians.
Our example matters! In troubling days, it is sometimes difficult to consistently live and love like Christ, but we have the promise that His Spirit will enable us to do so and we have the example of Christ to follow.
So as Christians, in our interactions with others in person or on social media, let’s commit to make wise, Christ-honoring decisions on how we respond to the brokenness in our world, and showcase the distinctive life and love of those who have committed their lives to Jesus. Let us always reflect grace and mercy in all of our interactions with others.
As we watch people around us build walls of division and burn bridges, I pray that we will be a people who burn walls and build bridges. We are called to be difference-makers. The heartbreaking events of these days showcase the incredible spiritual vacuum that defines our culture.
When we are presented with the opportunity to contribute to divisiveness, destructiveness, mean-spiritedness and selfishness, I pray that Christians will choose the Way of Christ. Living and loving like Jesus will not only be impactful in this world, it will be impactful in the world to come as well. B&R