Dear brothers and sisters,
Our hearts are broken, and we fall to our knees in prayer as we cry out to God about all that has gone on over the last few days in our country, and all that has led up to it. We are hurting with our brothers and sisters who are hurting and want you to know that we are devoted to you in love (Romans 12:10).
Between Ron and I, we have contacted and spoken with over 30 of you in the last 24 hours to listen, learn, empathize, give counsel, and pray together. We are reading articles from many different sources to be better informed, and are planning to participate in a special Zoom call tonight with other church leaders hosted by the ICOC U.S. Diversity Team to learn from each other how to better minister to our precious church family. Pray for us as we seek God’s voice and the message he wants us to deliver on Sunday.
What can you do?
Start with prayer. This is first and foremost a spiritual battle, and we dare not go into battle with Satan without the full armor of God in place. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:10-11).” Remember that our battle is not against people, but against the forces of evil: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (vs. 12).” Pray for yourself, your brothers and sisters, and our country.
This situation is complex and multi-faceted, but we know that God has something to teach each one of us through it, and we urge you to listen to his voice. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5) What is God teaching you right now? And how can you respond to his voice today?
Next, educate and empathize. Don’t assume that you know all there is to know about this situation without seeking to understand more from people different than yourself. And remember that healthy and constructive dialogue goes both ways. This takes mutual humility, courage and a willingness to bear one another’s burdens. But that’s what fulfills the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).
More than ever, we need to talk to each other, learn from each other, empathize with each other, counsel each other, and pray with each other. Our diversity as a church is a great blessing that Satan would love to turn into a weapon against us. It’s not a time for irresponsible rants on social media or segregating into camps. It’s a time for great patience, humility, and love as we respectfully and sensitively dialogue with each other with Christ’s timely command as our guide: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31).
You may want to read or reread the recent blog posts on the pain of racism to both process your own pain spiritually and learn how to empathize and help others to process theirs: (https://www.anchorpointtampa.org/post/i-see-you); (https://www.anchorpointtampa.org/post/not-again-processing-yet-another-injustice-guest-blog-by-lenz-daniel).
And finally, hold firmly to your faith. Jesus leads his church; and we will all be stronger for this if we bravely and faithfully follow his lead. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)
We can do this, brothers and sisters. Don’t be afraid. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Be devoted to one another in love. And let’s be the light of the world as we forge a unity that’s only possible through Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:14; Ephesians 2:14-18).
Your brothers in Christ,
Jeff & Ron