After a tumultuous 2015, with many states removing Confederate Flags from statehouses and Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists vandalizing them, there are still many who are defending the Confederate Flag. The fact that it is not politically correct actually appeals to me. I really want to eliminate political correctness, so part of me wants to support the flag for that reason alone. It is a flag that speaks to standing up for states’ rights, and I greatly respect the 10th Amendment, so that endears the this flag to me. I also believe in being historically correct; not forced to erase a piece of history and heritage. Some parts of my humanity want to “bow up” and support those who are still fighting for the Confederate flag. But it is clearly a symbol used by hate-groups and runs counter to my faith. A bigger part of me won’t allow me to support it.
Most of the nation was angry and sickened by the crisis of capitulation that occurred at the University of Missouri recently. Mizzou protesters conjured arbitrary offense to blame isolated allegations of racism on everyone but them, causing the dismissal of the university’s president and painting the students of the university as bigots. Many voiced their concern that capitulating to the hypersensitivity of a few teaches hate and mob-rule to our young people. In a society that seems to get more morally lax by the moment, teaching the demonstration of hate exacerbates the problems of healing our differences. A bigger part of all of us must allow and support love.
I truly believe that the majority of Americans are working very hard to avoid racism and other forms of wrongful discrimination. When BLM, Westboro, Confederate, LGBT or other disrespectful activists show up intimidating schools, politicians and government institutions to bend to their will, I am deeply offended. I respect the right to free speech, but disrespecting the rights of others and mob-rule are not free speech. They are hate and bigotry. I want to lash-out and demand the bigots of the world respect their fellow Americans. But if I were to lash-out, I would be serving the author of hate. I am committed allowing Christ to be the bigger part of me.
Jesus didn’t organize selfish protest marches or advocate mob-rule. He didn’t teach our young people to hate others if they feel offended. Christ was attacked by authorities, mocked by those in power, and had claim to every human rationalizing of hate. Still, he taught humility, forgiveness and love. He taught that, just because our minds can justify our anger, there are generations behind us, watching us. If we give in to impudence, bigotry, anger and fits of rage, God is watching us, and so are our children:
Matthew 18:6-8 (NLT)
But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. “What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting. So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet.
It’s not to say that Christians can’t organize and let their voice be heard. There are issues that the public has been misinformed about, and an honest, peaceful demonstration calls attention to issues of moral wrong. The difference for Christians is that they are motivated by love and compassion, and represent the Prince of Peace – they can’t injure others and represent Him. Some who see a Christian demonstration might be insulted by the offense of the gospel, but the comportment of Christ’s followers should not cause offense. God’s Word insulted my sinfulness before I was saved, but as a Christian I am blessed by the conviction I feel when God’s Word corrects me.
When Christians gather to oppose the killing of unborn people, it is a life-or-death commandment we are informing the public about. When we oppose changing the legal definition of marriage, it is certainly fair for Christians to show up in favor of supporting the family. But when Christians do assemble to demonstrate on behalf of life and families we have to be mindful not only who we are, but Whose we are. If we are led by love and treat others (including our enemies) with compassion, we are probably assembling to demonstrate the right thing. Christians demonstrating should not cause others to stumble. The Apostle Paul cautions about how we can be haughty and arrogant, showing the world that we believe we are above the humbleness of Christ.
1 Corinthians 8:9-13 (NLT)
But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble. For if others see you—with your “superior knowledge”—eating in the temple of an idol, won’t they be encouraged to violate their conscience by eating food that has been offered to an idol? So because of your superior knowledge, a weak believer for whom Christ died will be destroyed. And when you sin against other believers by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ. So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble.
As Christians, we have to be aware that unbelievers, seekers and our children all see us as representatives of Jesus Christ. The truth is we are all broken sinners, but Christians realize they need salvation from their sinfulness. Still, we have a hard time seeing our sin. The antidote for overlooking our own sin is a good dose of God’s Word and a broken heart ready to hear the Holy Spirit. We will most certainly sin, and when we deny it we lead a weaker sister or brother to sin. If a Christian presents themselves as “holier than thou”, judgmental, smug or fake, they bring discredit on the One whom they claim is the Lord of their life. Hypocrisy does show who someone is allowing to be lord of their life, but that lord is dark and no Christian would ever want a part of him.
In summary, we should be aware of the associations we are drawn to. If those associations are protesting for selfish, special treatment, are demanding revenge and displaying anger, hate and mob-rule, no Christian can serve the lord of those protests. If the Leader of our demonstration is Jesus, though we may be hatefully opposed, we will respond with love and compassion. Our actions should never repel people from Christ, but draw them to Him. We can assemble, as Christians, to advance the cause of Christ, but we are admonished to look like Him when we do.