I am still in shock from seeing the images of rioters, inspired by our nation’s president, storming the U.S. Capitol Building yesterday. The sight of people dishonoring a symbol of American democracy shatters my understanding of where we are as a country. As your Interim Minister, I feel it is important to denounce yesterday’s events but also to attempt to answer the question “How do we be church together in times like these?” Here are my thoughts submitted to you in humility.
We commit to diversity of thought and belief
At a time where everything is reduced to partisan worldviews, our culture has few spaces where people of different political ideologies can exist together in community. Churches should be spaces where love of neighbor allows for free exchange of ideas and respectful disagreement, but sadly large swaths of Christianity are merely extensions of political parties. As a church we can honor our obligations as Christians to participate in the public sphere without demonizing people with whom we disagree. As we engage in politics, we must commit to making sure our foremost allegiance is to Christ who taught us to love even our enemies. Church should be a place where Democrats, Republicans and Independents can find enough common ground to worship God and serve our communities together.
We commit to humility in our search for truth
In an age of “alternative facts” and “fake news,” Christians have an obligation to not only seek out truth but also to remain humble enough to remember we may always be wrong. We must commit ourselves to taking in media perspectives from more than one political point of view while acknowledging the biases of those who claim to be objective but are merely partisan mouthpieces. We must refuse to spread on social media and email lies, half-truths, misrepresentations, and misleading images. We must reject conspiracy theories that claim to offer secret truth for an enlightened few. We must remember that God calls us to be people of integrity and of humility in all our relationships.
We commit to accountability
God calls us to be a part of a church, because of the human tendency towards self-delusion. A faith community enables us to hear the wisdom of others with different perspectives and to consider the consequences of our beliefs and actions. We lovingly hold one another accountable when our conceptions of God end up hurting other people and when our sense of what is right causes more harm than good. As a faith community, we also have a role in expecting accountability in our community, state and nation. Setting aside partisanship, Christians have a role in calling leaders of all parties to work for the common good rather than their own political or financial gain.
We commit to reject idolatry
Perhaps the most disturbing picture I saw yesterday showed that amidst the Confederate flags and signs bearing slogans of QAnon there was a sign declaring “Jesus Saves.” How can such a declaration exist amidst violent extremists? A reporter from The Atlantic, walked with the mob headed to the capital yesterday and heard members of the group equating faith in Trump with faith in God. How can this be? As Christians, we are commanded to love God above all other loves and taught that equating anyone or anything with God is idolatry. As a church, we must guard ourselves against any attempt by politicians of any party to usurp the majesty and honor due only to God.
We commit to confronting the sin of White supremacy
The original sin of America is slavery and the resulting sins of white supremacy and white nationalism. Some in the mob who stormed the capitol building wore Nazi insignias and anti-Semitic slogans. They are the natural outgrowth of ideologies that view White people as the sole heirs of American freedom. Not only must we as Christians condemn extremists in the public eye but we must do the hard work of educating ourselves about and repenting from behaviors and beliefs that are the products of White supremacy rather than the inclusive Gospel of Christ. We do so not out of mere political correctness but out of devotion to God who demands justice for all.
We commit to love
As Christians we are called to love God and neighbor. So, whatever our political and religious beliefs, as Christians we must always view our thoughts, words and actions through the lens of love. Do our thoughts, words and actions align with the sacrificial love demonstrated by Jesus Christ? Do we listen to and respect others different from ourselves in the same way we expect to be listened to and respected? If Christ is present even inside of people with whom we disagree or consider our enemies—which is what the Gospel teaches—then the love we offer to or withhold from others is the same as the love offered to or withheld from Christ.
We commit to being a movement for wholeness
In our time, it is much easier to “unfriend,” “unfollow,” and disconnect from others we disagree with than it is to remain in relationship with them. The Christian Church, Disciples of Christ claims to be “a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.” As a church, we can commit to the hard work of making our bonds of fellowship stronger rather than mirroring a culture that promotes isolation and division. Our connections in Christ are countercultural behaviors that our culture will not reward, but our God honors our efforts at healing and wholeness.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Chase Peeples
6601 Northwest 72nd Street, Kansas City, MO 64151 | 816-741-1851