By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
As I have read news reports of the violence that happened in Charlottesville, Va., nearly two weeks ago, the words of “Jesus Loves The Little Children” have remained in my thoughts.
“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red, yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world” (those are the original words written by C. Herbert Woolston, not the contemporary or “politically correct” versions that some people sing today).
According to news reports, a rally to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee never took place as tension boiled over between white supremacists and those who were there to protest them. A man, reportedly a white supremacist, drove his car into a crowd, killing one woman and injuring 19.
This was such a senseless tragedy. Racism is destroying our world. Extremes from every race are spreading hatred and fear throughout our nation and our world.
Tennessee pastor and Southern Baptist Convention president Steve Gaines summed it up well: “God loves everyone the same. Christ died for the sins of everyone as well. Every person is equal to all others because God created each of us in His image.
“For anyone, regardless of skin color or ethnicity, to disdain another human being because of race is as un-Christlike as can be. Christians must reject and repudiate such alt-right groups and work for peace and goodwill among all people,” Gaines said.
In the days since the Charlottesville tragedy there have been efforts in Tennessee to protest and remove reminders of the Civil War era, particularly in Franklin. It’s an issue statewide. Many Civil War battles were fought throughout Tennessee. We can’t rewrite history. It happened.
Removing monuments is not the answer. We can destroy every reminder of the Civil War, but racism will still remain because ultimately it is about the people who are living in the present. We can lament the past, but we can’t change it. We can change the present and the future by our actions today.
Racism is a sin, pure and simple. Racism is destroying lives. Christians need to lead the charge against racism.
You may not be familiar with two other verses of “Jesus Loves The Little Children.” Those verses swap out “Jesus loves the little children” for “Jesus died for all the children” and “Jesus rose for all the children.”
The same is true for adults. Jesus loves us all. He died for us all and He rose for all who receive Him.
It’s time to heed those words and remember that we need to love, not hate.
Simplistic? Yes. Is it what’s needed? Yes. Will it happen? It depends on us.
Until the concept of love, not hate, is embraced by people of all races, it’s not a matter of “if” the next Charlottesville occurs, it’s a matter of “when.”