4 Takeaways from Charlottesville

Nearly a week ago events broke out in Charlottesville that captured the attention of the world. I hardly have to recount the events because the mere mention of the city conjures up images of a nation in conflict. Through it all nobody is without an opinion both about the events and the people involved (and in some cases about the people not involved). Those opinions are materialized through public comments available for all to see. Many are full of criticism, few are helpful, and even fewer are offered through the lens of the Bible. What is certain is that anyone aware of the circumstances is moved by the events in some form or another and there are several takeaways from what took place.

Public Condemnation

As the events began to die down there came calls from everywhere for people to publicly condemn what took place. Those calls have crossed all domains and disciplines and even worked their way into the Christian community. A product of the modern technological era in which instantaneous news supposedly demands instantaneous response. In the past week, several have gone so far as to say that if a person is a Christian and silent on this topic they are voicing their approval not only of the events but also are likely not a Christian. Such comments are extreme and unfair and are fabricated upon a false premise. Not only is it inappropriate to test someone’s salvation by whether or not they publicly respond to what took place, it’s also unacceptable to demand that every person publicly condemn such acts.

As a way of example, I consider my own response, or lack of response this past week. In no way am I in agreement with what took place and the heart motivations that drove such hatred. However, not commenting had been very intentional on my part. First, I’m not a known leader who needs to publicly comment about every situation that arises and neither do I have the time to do so. Second, is that for several days I had very little knowledge of the situation and it would not have been appropriate for me to comment. My circumstances dictate that I may not have immediate information or complete information and to make a public statement that can impact the testimony of God would be irresponsible on my part. Just as in my case, public condemnation is not required of every person and every circumstance. Certain circumstances dictate a lack of response is more desired.

Public Violence

Perhaps the second lesson coming out of Charlottesville is not one that is surprising: public violence solves nothing. In fact, public violence does not merely generate more problems but often generates more of an adversarial response. It generates more violence, more hatred, and more division without providing the solution to anything else. In the case of what took place in Charlottesville, I was disappointed to learn that many people on both sides came prepared with their own safety gear, suggesting that they came there with the intention of creating a greater disturbance and uproar. In other words, for a few people, this was simply an excuse to cause problems and through it all what is there to be shown by it?

Personal Responsibility

It’s unfortunate that we now exist in a society in which personal responsibility is almost non-existent. Most people are quick to pass blame to others. The common response out of what took place has been, “He or she made me do it” or “I was responding to the other person.” Seriously, they sound like me dealing with my four-year-old and his friend when someone says “He did it first.” I get that the situation created deep and intense emotions. I also understand who initiated the events that took place. However, I have watched nearly everybody blame someone else for Charlottesville, even going so far as to blame dead presidents. Truth be told, this is a sin issue and Scripture is very clear who is responsible for their personal sin: each individual person. I am not trying to minimize the actions of some while elevating the actions of others, but simply trying to stipulate that what has taken place exemplifies some very biblical concepts that are being denied.

Personal Conviction

Finally, it’s unfortunate that out of these circumstances a few people have been allowed to speak for the larger groups. This is particularly true of the races involved. Those who initiated the events have been given the voice for many of the Caucasians while a few who retaliated have been given the voice of those with other skin tones. However, in actuality, those few don’t speak for the beliefs of the larger group. I do not want my personal convictions portrayed by someone who is not in alignment with the Scriptures that dictate that all humans are made in the image of God and worthy of a general respect because of that. Therefore, we must be cautious in ascribing opinions and beliefs to a person based upon a few, especially in these circumstances.

In no way is my response meant to approve some and condemn others. The very fact that I have to make such a direct statement about my disagreement with what took place this past week is disheartening to me. Instead, I think it is important to look upon the actions that took place and learn from them. What we saw happen was a visual picture of the effects sin in the worst way. There clearly is a bridge that needs to be gapped in our society and hopefully, the extreme divisiveness will force us to be truthful in our assessment of what took place and honest in the evaluation of needing to move forward. However, such a broad gap that is initiated by sin can only be conquered by the one who conquered all sin: Jesus Christ.

The above article has been scheduled for several days because I am traveling with my family this week as we have interviews with the immigration department where we live and my wife and I celebrate our anniversary with our children. However, after writing I came across this article that complements some of my thoughts above. To read it, click the following link: Easy Lies to Believe

Photo “Downtown Charlottesville” courtesy of user Bob Mical and Flickr.