In response to the events that took place in Charlottesville, VA:

"What’s happening in Charlottesville is America. It has always been America. This ain’t new." -Brittany Ferrell (Ferguson Freedom Fighter)

Honestly speaking, I have been out of it. I have been in Muskegon the past few days with our friends from LivEmpowered at a music festival and I have not heard, read, or seen what has been going on in Charlottesville on traditional media or social media. But that's NO excuse for me. It is not blissful to be ignorant. That is why I am thankful for a brother and a sister who encouraged me to check out what's going going on just four states away. So I did. Needless to say, my heart is heavy.

I read a tweet this morning that rocked me and it said,
"I don't know why people are calling on white pastors to condemn this hate. They're the ones who shepherded the 81% who voted for Trump." -Christena Cleveland (Professor at Duke University)

I have shared with you before that I exercised my liberty not to vote this last election because I could no being myself to support either candidate. I'm also not one to stand behind a pulpit and try to persuade you to vote for a specific candidate.  It goes without being said that I am a Caucasian pastor living in America. I know that sometimes (a lot) I say stupid things when trying hard to be funny. I fail (a lot), but please hear me when I say that I hope and I pray that I have never brought any gasoline, kindling, or wood to the burning fire of hate or racism that rages in our country, in our state, in our county, in or city, or in our neighborhoods.

A newfound hero of mine once said this, "I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain." -James Baldwin (Civil Rights activist and Author)
I choose to come up out of the darkness and face the reality around me. Will you? It's a good place to start. There is more as well!

Church, some evil is clear. The evil of racism is hatred. It look like a police officer standing by and not doing anything while white nationalists attack a nonviolent counter-protesters. It could also be a violent person driving a car into a crowd of people marching for love and basic human rights.

When we see evil like this, we must name it, confront it, resist it, and defeat it. If we do not, we should NOT pretend that we follow Jesus. And churches and supposed Christians who are silent at this moment are making a clear choice for hate over love, nationalism over the Kingdom of God, and the false Gospel of white supremacy over the revolutionary love of Jesus.
Now church please listen, because while some evil is clear, other evil is more subtle – unless you find yourself in its crosshairs. But our call to name, confront, resist, and defeat it is no less binding.

White supremacy is not only the man carrying the torch or weaponizing the car.

White supremacy is liquor counters instead of produce sections in neighborhoods of color.

White supremacy is people needing school supply drives for black and brown children to have even the most basic materials they need for class.

White supremacy is people of color needing to put up GoFundMe/Kickstarter pages in order to pay for funerals and mind, body, and soul therapy.

White supremacy is America selling fear to white people and power to people of color in the form of a weapon.

White supremacy is all these things and more. And (again) we must name them, confront them, resist them, and defeat them.

I can write at my desk and I can stand before you all with a mind full of disgust and a heart full of love and speak these words with 100% conviction that it is clear to me (and I hope just as clear to you) that a person (even a Christian) is either anti-racist or anti-Christ!

Because when I look to our Bible and read about the Gospel (especially the red letters) and I look to Jesus the author of our faith and Savior of our souls, I do not see a God/Man full of hate, racism, supremacy, or bigotry. I see a man who loved the other, befriended the outcast, brought in the sinner, expelled the demon, healed the untouchable, and reached out to the foreigner, and sat face to face with the Samaritan woman.
He always has (and he continues to) stretch our minds and hearts to love those who do not look like us, dress like us, think like us, speak like us, live like us, or worship like us. Isn't that the Jesus we read about? Isn't that the Jesus we love? Isn't that the Jesus we serve? Isn't that the Jesus we are supposed to imitate?

So, how do we do this from four states away? Honestly, I am not quite sure just yet. Perhaps, we begin by taking the wise advice of James (the brother of Jesus) found at the beginning of his letter to the Jewish Christians. He wrote, "Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger".  I also know this, It is well past time for us – individually and as a faith community – to rededicate ourselves to the eradication of white supremacy. We must realize that this must be at the very core of our following after Jesus. And in dedication to that path of discipleship, we must, as other courageous saints who stood up in Charlottesville this weekend did, pledge to one another, in the words of President Lincoln, “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor".

Church, let's be (and continue to become) a community of faith whos hearts break when the Heavenly Father's breaks! Remember the "Golden Rule" Jesus himself gave during his convicting sermon on that mount when he said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". My paraphrase is, "Treat others as you want to be treated". It's that easy, but yet so hard. The Mosaic law contains a parallel commandment, "Whatever is hurtful to you, do not do to any other person".

I will end this mini-sermonette with a quote from the the man himself, Dr. Martin Luther King  Jr. with his words preached over 50 years ago back in the year 1963...

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction...The chain reaction of evil -- hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars -- must be broken, or we shall be plunged
into the dark abyss of annihilation."
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
(Civil Rights Activist and Pastor)

Church, Let’s not remain in the darkness anymore. Lets expose the evil and darkness with the love and light of Christ Jesus! Let's not be silent any longer. Let's expose injustice. Let's walk together. Let's be quick to listen. Let's be slow to speak. Let's be slow to anger.

Pastor Shane Cox | 8/13/17

Take Hold Church