Micah 6:8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
A few years back, my husband and I traveled to Memphis, TN for vacation. Besides The FOOD (oh the food!) and THE MUSIC, (live, all day and night, everywhere) there was history. On one of our last days, we visited the National Civil Rights Museum. We arrived when it opened and wandered through slowly. Sometime later, I realized I had a killer headache. I looked down at my watch. It was 3 o’clock- six hours had flown by as I immersed myself in bombed out buses, videos of bigoted public servants and photos of dogs turned on crowds of people of color. Standing by, with looks of disgust and anger, sometimes holding signs with hateful slogans, were whites. These observers probably went to church on Sundays, just like the people they wanted to oppress.
Recently, I encountered shouts of hate and inaccurate railings against my personal views of Jesus Christ’s mission of love for us. I was both angered and confused. How-and better yet- why did one person’s understanding of Jesus become the standard for which I was meant to measure my own? Did screaming at me further Jesus’ gospel of peace and love?
In the days that followed, I deeply felt sorrow for anyone who must face that kind of vitriol, especially in the places it is least expected: at a school, restaurant, clinic, hospital, even church. Whether we are talking about the Civil Rights era of the 1960’s or the streets of Fergusson, Baltimore, North Charleston or UC; at Stonewall in the 1970’s, or courthouses in Anywhere, USA this past month where folks elected to execute the law (i.e. dispensing marriage licenses) suddenly decide it’s their way; schools and hospitals during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s/1990s, Planned Parenthood clinics everywhere since Roe vs Wade: why is it acceptable to speak hate and tear down anyone who differs from us in theology, practice, or choice? What objective does that serve?
There are days when I agree with all the people who think the time is near for a second coming. With such vapid hate, which is worlds away from the message of love and mutual care that Jesus preached, it isn’t tough to demise that some house cleaning may be in order. However, if there is any message that is abundantly clear, it is this: our Lord is a God of second chances and third chances, etc. One more try to do better, be better, start fresh from a place of love and joy. Begin with Micah’s direction: do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with the Lord. It’s a solid place, a thin space, where love reigns. We could use a lot more of that these days.