Originally published in the August 15, 2017, edition of the Suffolk News-Herald
How can we possibly be in the place where our nation finds itself right now? How can a man have become so depraved as to have plowed his car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, killing one and injuring at least 19 others? How can our screens be filled with torch-lit faces twisted with rage and hatred? How can this be Virginia in 2017? How can the symbols of 20th-century evil incarnate have been adopted by Americans who descend from the Greatest Generation, those grandfathers and great-grandfathers who stormed the beaches of Normandy and fought the Battle of the Bulge to free a continent that had been overrun by an ideology of hate? And where do we go as a nation from here?
Let’s start with this: If you marched with those who bore torches on Friday night in Charlottesville in an effort to instill fear and terror — if your initial response to learning of the damnable terror attack with a vehicle is anything short of revulsion and condemnation — please do not call yourself a Christian.
Christians are called to be meek. Meekness was not on display when the brown-shirted white nationalists were chanting “Blood and Soil” on the lawn at the University of Virginia.
Christians are called to seek peace. Peace was not a part of the program when thugs wielding batons and flagpoles beat and maimed counterprotesters on the sidewalks and streets of Charlottesville.
Christians are called to love their neighbors. Love was not evident on the contorted faces of white supremacists screaming racial epithets or even calmly asserting veiled justifications for the violence.
If your social media accounts are full of condemnation for the violence that resulted in the murder of police officers during a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas, but you can find no similar sense of revulsion over the terrorist and his friends in Charlottesville, then you really are missing the point of that “love your neighbor” thing. If you’re angry about Charlottesville but found no time to condemn what happened in Dallas, you have reduced the whole “Thou shalt not commit murder” to sloganeering.
Jesus, who stands apart from the Democrat and Republican parties, who eschewed the opportunity to engage in the political matters that roiled the world when He walked it, gave His followers a simple command: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35 NASB)
Please don’t call yourself His follower if you cannot be troubled to follow His most basic commandment.