A Short Reflection: Christian Love – There is No Exceptional

[Extracted from my Facebook profile, posted: 07/28/2016]

I saw a sermon excerpt that was on race, with a caption below that went to the effect: “yea, we went there.” And I thought to myself, why is it that the most violent and aggressive injustice to human bodies is an exceptional topic in gospel preaching? Why is it the exception to the rule to speak prophetically against injustice? Further, why does speaking about the subject cause one to feel exceptional? It’s 2016, allegedly the dawning of the post-racial era. If that is the case, if it truly is a post-racial society we live in, race should be an old demon subdued and destroyed, making it a toothless oppressor that can be cast down effortlessly in gospel (i.e. Christ)-centered preaching. But that is not the case.

My mind transported me to the Charleston tragedy in a new way as I reflected on this state of affairs. The Charleston 9 and Emanuel AME Church are forever hallowed in church history for their supernatural, extraordinary witness to the essence of the Christian life, whose testimony is prophetically speaks to the current normative standard of life together. The Charleston 9 welcomed a stranger into their midst, into their most cherished inner sanctum–for who shall the Church of Christ turn away? Mother Emanuel displayed the audacity and sheer foolishness of Christian love by forgiving that young boy (and the world which created him) who snatched away their precious loved ones, gaining absolutely nothing for their granting forgiveness–except strange looks, criticism, and eternal life. These beautiful black sons and daughters of the King of Glory who have had to mourn in the public eye; weep while the cameras flash; take the first step in granting forgiveness to a murderer, a thief–they have proclaimed to Christian churches a prophetic witness to the normal Christian life. In America, to welcome the stranger (the black man, the gay couple, the poor white woman, the privileged son of a millionaire, the promiscuous man or woman, the politician, the police officer, the hustler) into our most sacred, safest spaces (churches, homes, countries); to love our neighbor (the black man, the gay couple, the poor white woman, the privileged son of a millionaire, the promiscuous man or woman, the politician, the police officer, the hustler); to forgive our enemies (the black man, the gay couple, the poor white woman, the privileged son of a millionaire, the promiscuous man or woman, the politician, the police officer, the hustler); to accept one another (the black man, the gay couple, the poor white woman, the privileged son of a millionaire, the promiscuous man or woman, the politician, the police officer, the hustler), just as Christ did, to the glory of God (Rom 15:7)–this is the normal Christian life. This is the simple command; this is the impossible command. But God…

“I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high…the world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you…But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

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