Flags, faith and fury
WASHINGTON — “Jesus Saves.” “For the Glory of God.” “God,…
That was Domingo Reyes’ prayer as the Wilmington, Del., minister taught his congregation’s Wednesday night Bible study Jan. 6, just hours after a deadly riot inside the U.S. Capitol.
“The events that occurred were so disturbing that I had to change my lesson … in an attempt to refocus our minds,” Reyes said. “We were, and many still are, a bit fearful and anxious about what occurred and its implications on the future.”
Reyes preaches for a racially and politically diverse church that worships 3.5 miles from the home of Joe Biden — the man elected to serve as America’s 46th president.
Spanish speakers — many of them immigrants from Central America — make up roughly 20 percent of the church’s average Sunday attendance of 150.
“I spoke about the political climate during the times of Jesus and how Jesus’ words must have sounded so out of place for many of the hearers,” the minister said of the lesson he offered as tensions remained high in Washington, D.C., a two-hour drive from Wilmington.
“They were expecting a king who would restore Israel to their former state of prominence,” said Reyes, the bilingual son of a Dominican Republic-born father and a Puerto Rican mother. “They were hoping for a king who would free them from Roman rule.”
Jesus had a different vision.
Be peacemakers. Go the extra mile. Pray for enemies.
“We discussed being part of a different kingdom with higher standards and expectations,” Reyes said. “I also emphasized that God is in control and that we should have the same peace Jesus spoke to his disciples about in John 14:27.”
That Scripture says: “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.”
Nearly 1,400 miles from Wilmington, my heart was still troubled.
The following Sunday, I worshiped with my home congregation, the Edmond Church of Christ in Oklahoma.
I found comfort in the words of our minister, Randy Roper. He reminded the church that followers of Jesus are “citizens of heaven” (Philippians 3:20).
“What is our response to everything going on in our world?” Roper asked. “Well, we can choose a side and jump into the muck and post the propaganda and spew the rhetoric that actually makes us look like the people of the world whose citizenship is in the world, and by so doing … misrepresent the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, to a world that desperately needs to know the Good News.
“Or we can take a different approach,” he said. “We can see all the chaos as an opportunity for a hurting world to find what they need most: Jesus. We, as Christians, can make the deliberate and conscious choice to be united, not divided, in declaring what is most important and who we are to be — the instruments and ambassadors of Christ, to share the Gospel in this world.”
“Now, does that mean that Christians don’t have political beliefs?” Roper said. “Does that mean we don’t have opinions about the economy? Does that mean that we don’t try to make our communities, even our nation, better? Of course not.
Related: Flags, faith and fury
“But it does mean that all of those things and everything else bow in submission to the One who reigns eternal.”
I also appreciated the encouraging message of my friend Tim Tripp, senior minister for the West Side Church of Christ in Russellville, Ark.
“Christians, it is time for us to shine!” Tripp wrote on Facebook. “When our world is in turmoil and our country is in chaos, where else can people look to find peace if it isn’t to the followers of Jesus, the prince of peace!”
He proposed relying on Colossians 3:12-14 as a guide before posting on social media: “Ask: Is it compassionate? Is it kind? Is it humble? Is it gentle? Is it patient? Does it reflect a forgiving heart? Does it come from love? And does it bring people together?”
Back in Delaware, Greenbank elder Jim Friederichsen made a special announcement to the congregation that Sunday about the violence in Washington.
He urged the church to “embrace above everything else who we are (Christian), whose we are (Christ’s) and what we are called to do in every circumstance (love the Lord our God with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves … and to follow the example of Christ the Lord in all that we do and say).”
BOBBY ROSS JR. is Editor-in-Chief of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].
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