Can We Agree?
When the allied armies landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, they did so under the conviction that there was “strength in unity.” In contrast, the Nazi strategy for defeating the allies and extending their unjust powers was to “divide and conquer.” These contrasting strategies — strength-in-unity versus divide-and conquer —are both options for how we as Americans navigate this fragile and fractious moment, weary and depleted though we are after months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To move forward together, it would be wise for us to affirm — and keep affirming — the things virtually all Americans can agree on. I believe there is so much we do agree on. To begin with:
- We all agree that police brutality is wrong
- We all agree that George Floyd had his life taken unjustly
- We all agree that the particular officer who kneeled on George Floyd’s neck should be arrested, indicted, tried, convicted and jailed. That process is already underway
- We all agree that racism is wrong and that individual acts of racism should be called out and swiftly corrected
- We all agree that damaging or stealing a fellow citizen’s property is unjust
- We all agree that we need the police and law enforcement to keep our civilization functioning justly and from descending into chaos
The list could go on and on….
The reason that most Americans can agree on these statements is because they rest on the deeper truths set forth in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. Sadly, it seems less agreeable these days to appeal to the notion that America, imperfect though we are and stained by the sins of slavery and subsequent Jim Crow era, is founded on noble, enduring and righteous ideals. Read again these words, signed into being on July 4, 1776:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
It is crucial to note that our rights come directly from God, not from the government.
The government is charged with securing and upholding those God-given rights. In the case of George Floyd, an officer of the very government responsible for upholding his right to life instead robbed Mr. Floyd of that very right. That hard truth is worth lamenting, repeating, and lamenting some more.
For my part, I’m planning to walk with some other citizens and fellow Christians next Tuesday in Wilder Park of Elmhurst at 4 pm. I’m going to carry a sign that reads, “God alone gives the breath of life, nobody else gets to take it.” It’s a small act, but one I believe affirms all that I’ve written above and puts me in union and communion with most of my fellow Americans.
Speaking of union and communion, this Sunday’s worship service will conclude with the Sacrament of Communion. After Pastor Jeff and I share a message wrestling with God’s Word and current events, we will arrive at the place where we desperately need to be: the table of the Lord where all God's children are welcomed, healed, restored, and forgiven because of the love of God in Christ Jesus. If you’ll be watching the LiveStream on Sunday, please come prepared with some bread and crimson drink of your choice. I’m so looking forward to meeting you there!