On August 13, I made a statement about what took place in Charlottesville. Since then, a lot has continued to happen, causing more tension in the air, so the leaders of Brentwood Church and I felt that it was important that we make a statement that was prayerful as well as something we believe is proclamation for not just Charlottesville, but our position on what is going on right now in our community and our culture. I get that there is a risk of message fatigue. You have likely been bombarded with so many voices through social media and more. But I believe it is important that we make a statement on behalf of our church, on behalf of what it means to believe and follow Jesus at Brentwood Church. Below is a copy of the statement I made in service this past Sunday, August 20:
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.” — 1 John 2:9
Last week, I made a 30-thousand-foot statement about what took place in Charlottesville, but things have escalated since then, and I believe we have a responsibility to respond in a way that reflects the love of Christ. The world needs the Church to lead in this, and we have a great responsibility to point people to Jesus Christ and away from racism and hate.
To be clear, our church adheres to the Bible’s teaching that racism and hatred of others is sin. White supremacists, neo-Nazis, and similar groups do not represent the teachings of Jesus and do not represent the teachings of this church.
It’s simple to say we don’t support racism and hate, but it requires more energy and sacrifice to go to our brothers and sisters in our community and acknowledge and validate that many feel afraid, insecure, and uncertain right now. We have a responsibility to get uncomfortable and let our brothers and sisters know that we support them and we want to listen and stand beside them in the face of any hate they are feeling or experiencing.
As a church, we do not align ourselves with any group or movement other than the truth of the Gospel. God so loved the world that he gave Jesus Christ to the world. The Gospel is for all. We are going after the One no matter race or religion or politics, etc. We will be intentional to fight for someone’s eternity. We will demonstrate the truth of the Gospel. This is not about politics or religion but the heart of those who are angry, hurt, and broken. Their hearts matter to Jesus and they matter to us as a church.
This is not about politics or religion but the heart of those who are angry, hurt, and broken. Their hearts matter to Jesus and they matter to us as a church.
Now I can make that statement, but what does that mean? How do we live that out?
I was at a bank this week making a real-estate transaction. The lady that was helping my wife and me was an African-American woman. After we were done with the transaction, I quietly closed her office door, and I said to her, “I need your help with something.” Of course she was willing to help, so I proceeded.
“As the lead pastor of a predominately white church, I need your help with something. If I was your pastor, what would you want to hear from me, what would you want me to do, what do you need from me in this time that we’re living in right now? If you were me, what would you say to my church?”
Her response: “Empathy.”
She went on to say that she doesn’t speak for every African American in this country, but that she can speak for a lot of her friends, and their answer would be empathy. If we could try to understand how others are feeling right now and try to see how they feel about the times we’re living in and what they’re experiencing, it would go a long way.
She then leaned in and asked me if I could do something for her. And I said, “Absolutely.”
She looked at me and said, “Raise your three children not to see color.”
And honestly, I’m proud that my children are already living that out. But I want to continue to do my part in helping them live that out and living that out myself. I ask you to do the same. Let’s be a church that empathizes and raises children to see the way Jesus sees. And let’s continue to pray for our neighbors in Charlottesville.