I was up late into the night listening to the sounds of sirens and helicopters circle my city while protests turned to riots, cop cars caught fire, and hundreds lined the streets, all in the middle of a global pandemic.  Such a strange time we live in.

This morning I went down to help clean up the mess and was able to join in a multi-congregational prayer circle exactly where the riots had taken place nearly hours before. There’s a video at the bottom of this post. It was beautiful to see so many come together to pray for peace, love, unity, and change.

I don’t claim to know a lot. And the more I learn the more I realize just how much I don’t know. 

But I know that everything society throws at us seems to want to divide and destroy. The enemy knows that division and complacency are the best strategies against the world and the church. Hatred and apathy are rampant. The left blames the right, the right, the left. No one wants to examine their own hearts or open their minds enough to attempt to understand another view.

I know Christ placed love above all else. Above tradition, above class, above religion, above race. Christ came to save the Jew and the Gentile. The church includes people with different skin tones, backgrounds, talents, and challenges. We are all one body. One family. One church.

I know we are called to love. We are called to serve. We are called to be peacemakers but we are also called to defend the marginalized. I am to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God. (Micah 6:8)

2020 Riot Prayer Circle

Jesus was not the messiah everyone was expecting. They expected him to ride in on a warhorse, sword in hand, and claim his kingdom then and there. Instead, he was a humble servant. He washed his disciples’ feet, dined with sinners, and rode in on a homely donkey before being tortured and murdered by his own people (more hatred and division). But they also weren’t expecting him to hang on that cross and love them in spite of themselves. Or to be resurrected and become the forgiveness once and for all for those that believe.  That’s a love we just can’t fully comprehend.

The one time Jesus did get angry was in Matthew 21 when he overturned tables in the temple. Jesus rebuked those who misused and mistreated the temple. And the Word says we are now the temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16)  So Jesus does have righteous anger at the mistreatment of His people. But over and over again in the Word, He handled things in ways the world wouldn’t expect: with meekness, patience, kindness.

There’s a balance here to find. Not in violence, but not in silence either.

If this year has taught me anything, it has given me a glimpse of the life-changing love of God shown clearly when His people come together in unity and community. I know that we were placed in the here and now for such a time as this. (Esther 4:14) Together, unified, we can change the world, starting with our own hearts and spreading out in example to all those around us. We just have to look to Jesus. To get in the Word. To love like Jesus: our neighbors with different opinions and with different skin tones.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:13-14

If we need to be reminded of what love looks like, look no further than 1 Corinthians 13.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (vs4-7)

So I don’t know a lot. Sometimes I don’t know the right words or next move, but I do know I want to love God, thrive in community, fight for unity, and use my voice for His Kingdom and His children.