As of late, it seems that each new day begins with the news of a mass tragedy, tragedy involving racial and ideological differences and tensions. As we watch these tragedies take the lives of dear loved ones, as we stand confused and hopeless, and as we watch the world grow silent and displaced, we find ourselves wondering how the world could have gotten this dark. We weep and the world around us weeps. Our hearts are broken and torn; “Why is there such tragedy?” “How could someone do something like this?” Just over a month ago, a gunman opened fire on a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing nearly fifty people- a tragedy thrust in the year anniversary of another gunman who opened fire in a church in Charleston, North Carolina, killing nine people. Some weeks ago, two African American men were killed resulting from the action of police officers in Minnesota and Louisiana. Later on that week, five police officers were killed in the midst of a peaceful protest in Dallas, Texas. Following that tragedy, someone drove a truck into a crowd that was celebrating Bastille Day, killing more than eighty people. And still, just last week, three more police officers were killed in Baton Rouge. While the news of these endless tragedies ridden with injustice, oppression, darkness, and sorrow have become all too familiar, we still find ourselves burdened with heavy hearts, wondering if all hope is lost.
Usually, I do not tend to single out a distinct group of people, but in light of these tragedies, I feel as though my voice can only carry to a group of people I identify with, empathize with, and know fully well: those who call themselves Christians. In this piece, I am directing my voice at Christians because it is the group with which I can use complete authority in my words. As a Christian, I believe that God has pursued us since the beginning of time, loving us and longing to make us right with him. Through this love, I believe that Jesus came to earth to redeem our hearts ridden with sin, hatred, malice, selfishness, deceit, and wickedness. I believe that he lived the perfect, holy, and blameless life that we could not live and that he died in our place so that we could live in perfect unity with our Heavenly Father. Because of this beautiful reconciliation, I have been given the powerful gift of a radical grace that I still cannot seem to make sense of, but a grace, nonetheless, that has freed me from the guilt and shame of my own sin. This grace, the gift of Jesus’ perfect life for me, has necessarily transformed the way I live. In my own life, it has freed me to be the person that I am- completely, incompletely, wholly, imperfectly, and transformatively. It has freed me to pursue his beautiful and perfect plan for my life, while empowering me to trust that God not only desires the best for me, but that he fully knows every incomparably and distinctly precise detail that makes up his best plan for me.
This grace, though, has done infinitely more than just transform my own life; it has caused me to live in response to God’s unending love through the way that I treat other people. In basking in the grace of Jesus Christ, I have seen my judgmental attitude towards others transform into compassionate and empathetic understanding. I have seen instinctive unkindness give way to an outpouring of kindness, goodness, and grace. I have witnessed selfishness transfigure into selflessness and humility. I have experienced the weight of sin and what I idolized in longing for the acceptance and approval of others dissipate into the complete freedom found in the unparalleled love of our Heavenly Father. And as I have seen such a transformation in my own life, I cannot help but think of the immense power in the collectivity of this transformation, of the love and freedom donned in the Gospel in the lives of believers around the world. Christians, if we are living in the freedom of this radical love of God- this love that knows no bounds, that finds us in our darkest moments and deepest times of despair, and that pursues us even when our own sin seems too wicked to redeem- then our lives must reflect that. And if our own lives reflect the power of the freedom of Jesus Christ, then our actions towards others must necessarily reflect the incomparably great, powerful, and life-altering grace of God’s love for us through Jesus. And if our actions are necessarily reflecting that love, then our world must necessarily be transforming in the light, love, and goodness of Jesus Christ.
Now, hear me in this, there is senseless tragedy that we will not be able to control or even fix. But, I am convinced that we are missing the mark in showing the world the goodness in the selfless and undeserving love that we have been given through the life and death of Jesus. I am convinced that relationships remain to be broken and incomplete because we neglect to fill them with the compassion, grace, and dignity that only the power and authority of Jesus through us can fill. I am convinced that we can be doing way more than we are doing to love on the world and to mend it as it weeps throughout every senseless tragedy, every mourning heart, and every broken, longing, and wandering soul. I am convinced that our world would resemble a lot more healing, inclusivity, and graciousness if we were truly showing this powerful, healing, and ever-satisfying love that requires no performance, repayment, or obligation in return. I believe that we would see an ongoing transformation in our neighborhoods, communities, schools, universities, and countries in the same way that we saw a transformation in ourselves through receiving the love and life of Christ. I believe that this love would would extend its power in repairing the brokenness ridden in the divides of oppression, discrimination, and separateness found in our countries and international communities. And I believe that this love would begin to find its roots in the people who live their lives in an authentic response to the way that Jesus has saved, redeemed, and love them, further spreading those roots to every corner, crack and crevice, every peak and valley, throughout the world.
I cannot help but think that these individual transformations, this ongoing growth in the love that Jesus daily extends to us, will necessarily give way to a worldwide transformation. In light of these international, national, and local tragedies, I believe that we, as Christians, have been given the full authority in Christ to allow God to work through us to transform the world. By the life and power of Jesus, I believe that we would begin to see another human being, regardless of whether or not we knew them, in the luminosity that Christ sees them. I believe that we would begin to love complete strangers by the same incomparable and wholly undeserving love by which Christ loved us. I believe that we would be willing to sacrifice our prejudices, our biases, our sense of security, and our own perception of what is best for us for the good of even one other single life- knowing the depth by which Jesus offered his perfect life for each of us even when while we knew little of that sacrifice, expected little of an all-powerful God, and still continued to pursue fulfillment in anything else besides him. I believe that if we lived according to the love of Jesus that captivated our hearts, we would see our world begin to grow in that love and morph into a home that mends broken, deceitful, selfish, and wicked hearts to the perfect holy, gracious, kind, and ever-yielding heart of the One who saved us. Standing in the full power and authority of Jesus’ love for us, I believe that we will be enabled to challenge social structures, to defy and eradicate systemic racism, to mend brokenness and rectify wrongdoing, and to restore lives to the beautiful and perfect love of Christ. Christians, it is time to start spreading the love of Jesus to the world- a love that has freed us both individually and collectively to be the people intricately designed by our most loving Father. It is time for us to uphold the love that has radically saved us and wholly enabled us to pursue goodness, truth, justice, and peace in the name of Jesus. It is time to come together and to bring this world home to the freeing, gracious, and purely good love of Jesus. It is time to wholly and comprehensively comfort our weeping world.