I don’t plan to make Sunday morning statements about most noteworthy events that make national news. I hope my brothers and sisters at BridgePoint Bible Church can appreciate when I do decide to make these statements without expecting that every injustice that tops the headlines will receive a focused response in our Sunday gatherings. But some issues rise to the forefront of the well-formed Christian conscience, and those moments sometimes require a clear public declaration. I’m only ten weeks into the pastorate, but I believed and still believe that yesterday morning was one of those times. Here are the comments I made to our church before I began my Sunday sermon.
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Brothers and sisters of BridgePoint,
This weekend, thousands of people marched through the small college town of Charlottesville, Virginia. Their local protest was the recent removal of Confederate statues and names from local parks and monuments, which they have a right to peaceably protest.
But this group was made up of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klan members representing the broad group called the “alt-right.” And their larger stated agenda is to “take back America” for the “superior white race.” There were torches, Nazi flags and salutes, and Hitler quotes on full display.
Every news organization in the United States, as well as international networks like the BBC and Al Jazeera, covered this gathering. After following these events through the weekend, I want to state something clearly:
This is racism, it’s evil, and it’s satanic. At BridgePoint Bible Church, we are unapologetic and unwavering in our belief that every human being is made in the image of God. Regardless of race, color, or nationality, every person has equal dignity and value as God’s image-bearer. Further, the gospel of Jesus Christ is offered to all people, because it is a gospel of grace. No individual or group is privileged above another, and anyone who turns from their sins and trusts in Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness may be saved simply through faith in his name.
Now, while we condemn the racism so obviously on display this weekend, we must also recognize this morning that all of us—regardless of our nationality or background—have the seeds of racism in our hearts. We are all tempted, in ways we often don’t even recognize, to view ourselves as superior and others as inferior. We are all tempted, in ways we often don’t even recognize, to be suspicious or judgmental or condescending toward those of a different race.
As Christians, we must be committed to protecting the inherent dignity of every human being; we must be committed to protecting the purity of the gospel which brings salvation to all people; and we must be committed to protecting the purity of this church by living out Christ’s message of reconciliation that brings together in one body Jew, Gentile, and members from every nation on earth.
I pray that in the coming years, we would all humbly stand together for this gospel of reconciliation, in word and attitude and action.