Do you watch the news every day? Follow a blog of current events? How about checking the daily headlines online? I do. Lately, I’ve become a bit more discouraged with what I read. Even if I try to look past the politicians arguing over Brexit or the US government shutdown, just yesterday there were stories of an avalanche, a pipeline blast, suicide attackers, economic troubles, a measles outbreak, a military revolt, a bomb attack, and migrants drowning in the Mediterranean. Some days the news is more than I can bear.
This week would have been the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., the well-known civil rights leader who advocated for peace and restoration. In an article written by John Stonestreet from the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Rev. King is quoted as saying, “The end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community.” Stonestreet said that King “had in mind the hard work of restoration, which not only would undo unjust laws and discrimination, but would see them replaced with the kinds of relationships that cannot be legislated into existence—relationships built on love and mutual support.”
Politics is not the answer. Thinking that we can write a law to change a person’s heart is absurd. I remember having a conversation with a student who was acting out in class. He was being rude to the teacher and interrupting the lessons. I could have talked with him all day about how he had to respect the teacher, but he just didn’t. In the end I told him that I understood that inside he was really standing up (in protest), but that for now I would accept him sitting down (on the outside). In other words, I would be fine if he just didn’t exhibit the improper behavior even though I knew that he still wanted to and felt he had a right to. After years of working with him, he hit rock bottom and had to leave the school. But that’s not the end of the story. He returned to thank me for the grace that I had shown to him over the years, acknowledging that he now knew that his attitude had been wrong. He showed remorse and repentance, asking for forgiveness. It wasn’t the school rules that changed his heart. It wasn’t the detentions or even the suspensions that did anything. When he finally met God face to face and was able to acknowledge his own sinfulness, then God brought about redemption and reconciliation.
Speaking of the world’s need during this time of overt disdain and violence, Stonestreet said that “we can only seek the reconciliation grounded in an overflowing love for God and neighbor that seeks nothing in return. The kind of relationships that cannot be legislated.” What we need is a heart change. As Christians, we must be the first to show what it means to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6).” Please join me in prayer for our school community, for our city, for our nation, and for the nations of the world. Pray that God’s overflowing love would be recognized and poured out so that those who are experiencing illness or poverty or war would have the assurance that there are those of us who care. We are the ones who must first demonstrate that love to our neighbors, to our children, and even to those that outwardly hate us. I wonder what the headlines would look like if we took Jesus’ words seriously and really did this? I wonder.
Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Director
Stonestreet, J. (2019, January 21). MLK and Beloved Community: Reconciliation and Restoration. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.breakpoint.org/