A Summer of Unrest
I wanted to take a moment to say a few words of encouragement to the Hope Church family concerning the unrest taking place in our nation at this time. Currently, we are facing a coalescence of three cultural storms that are coming together at the same moment.
First, we are dealing with a Health Crisis. COVID-19 is the first pandemic that most of us have faced in our lifetime. Beyond the obvious health concerns, COVID-19 has impacted our economy, disrupted our education system, isolated loved ones from another, and caused steep rises in depression and homelessness. The secondary effects of this pandemic may be felt for years to come.
Secondly, we are experiencing great Racial Unrest: In response to the George Floyd killing, racial tensions are at their greatest level in over 50 years. We are becoming more acutely aware of the generational impact of hundreds of years of systemic injustice. However, we have not been able to articulate a clear strategy on moving forward justly. We must acknowledge and heal from our unjust past and work toward a better future.
Finally, we are experiencing Political Unrest: You have probably heard “this is the most important election of our lifetime” a million times in the last month. Conflict on the health and demonstration issues are seeming to be impacted more by political divisions than objective science and an impartial moral (Biblical) framework. From Portland to Washington, DC we are seeing conflict of unparalleled proportions.
Yet in times like these, I am extremely hopeful. Scripture teaches us that, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:1)
I wanted to reaffirm some of my convictions as your pastor.
First, I am committed to keeping you as safe as reasonably possible. I am never going to ask you do anything that will put you at risk with your health, faith, finances, and family. We will not ask you to come back to church until it is safe, and then, we will not insinuate that you come until you feel it is safe to return.
Secondly, I am going to preach and lead Biblically. Times like these should cause us to be more Biblical, and not less. My primary responsibility it is to proclaim to you what the scripture teaches and to shepherd you through difficult times. Sometimes, you will find what I share to be encouraging and validating to the convictions you already passionately hold. Other times, you may feel convicted or offended. My goal is not to offend or provoke you, but simply to declare what “thus saith the Lord.” Tim Keller writes, “If your god never disagrees with you, you might just be worshiping an idealized version of yourself.”
Thirdly, I am committed to reminding you that “our kingdom is not of this world.” I am not going to endorse one candidate or party; nor and I going to exclusively criticize one candidate or party. (I am committed to be an “equal opportunity offender.”) This does not mean that I don’t have opinions, nor does it mean that I expect you to have no opinions. It simply means I don’t want to be known more for a candidate(s) I support than redemption that Jesus provides.
Finally, I am going to continue to lead us to pursue being a community that is ethnically, economically, and generationally diverse. The only way that a church can become diverse is to be intentionally committed to it. It does not happen by accident. It has been said that “Sunday at 11:00 is the most segregated hour of the week in our country.” I am convinced that this is true because we expect other people to make the sacrifices for integration to happen, without taking the initiative ourselves.
Despite this tension, uncertainty and unpredictability, I am convinced that the church is the hope that our world needs more now that ever. The more anxious the world is, the more inspiring the church can become. While there is often a temptation to be fearful, we have greater responsibility to be faithful.
I am glad we are on this journey together.