By Gabe Lepage, Racial Justice Fellowship member–
CHALLENGE: Capitol rioters and false claims to truth
REFLECTION: To be Christian is to love truth. The looting of the Capitol building revealed some deep illusions held by the rioters. An article in The Nation quotes a woman saying through tears, “This is not America. They’re shooting at us. They’re supposed to shoot BLM, but they’re shooting the patriots.” This woman conceived of herself as so good that she thought partaking in a mob was not out of line. The mob threatened the lives of many our highest elected officials, essentially a lynch mob aimed at our government. The crowd however believed they were in the right. Some used Christian rhetoric. One held a sign referencing Joshua 24:15, saying, “Choose now whom you will serve.” The crowd also conceived of themselves as Patriots, even as they try to tear down the central institutions of the country. In reference to the woman’s quote, I am reminded of 1 John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” This seems to be an understatement in response to a woman who believes it is the police’s role to shoot black protesters, but it is important to reflect on it as Christians. Being a Christian does not mean we are always right, but that we love truth. Part of being Christian is an encounter with Jesus–so that we can see and acknowledge our sin. Learning to see our blind spots is the road to truth.
Christians have successfully engaged in the American public arena before, most notably in the Civil Rights movement using a Christian ethic of non-violence. Serving Christ in the public arena involves a commitment to the truth while submitting to human laws and regulations. Protesters demanding public services, seats on buses, and access to lunch counters were beaten with clubs, dowsed with fire hoses, and attacked by dogs. Civil Rights protesters–out of a commitment to the truth that all people are made in God’s image –accepted the human consequences of breaking unjust laws and went to jail en masse as a form of public witness. As followers of Jesus, they sought to love their enemies by willingly suffering the consequences of unjust laws, and through their suffering and advocacy, they transformed the hearts and laws of a nation.
The actions of the mob–in contrast–were violent. While Jesus is at work in the world establishing his kingdom in love by caring for widows and orphans, defending the alien, healing the sick, and setting captives free, this mob has all their hope in a temporal, earthly nation. They certainly show that they do not know Jesus very well and threaten the democratic institutions they claim to defend. Compare the public witness of Civil Rights protesters and BLM protesters who put their bodies on the line for the defense of life and the mob that came to our capitol with weapons and a noose to overturn a lawful election. One has the light of Christ. The other does not.
ACTION: How do I stand up for truth in the wake of the Capital riots?
SCRIPTURE FOR THE ROAD: 1 John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”