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Not a Time to Take Sides – Except God’s Side

January 7, 2021 by

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This moment in our country’s history demands a response. But what should it be? It is said that silence is complicity. But what should break the silence?

Our Capitol building in Washington, DC, was stormed by crowds of angry protesters. Headlines shout of a war on democracy. Chaos and confusion took our Capitol hostage as Congress was trying to do its job of certifying an election. The entire nation is upset and worried, although often for conflicting reasons. Finger pointing and “I told you so” abound. We should be worried. We have seen violence before, but as bad as that is, this growing sedition is dangerous. Sinister powers love confusion and violent chaos.

Millions are reacting, thinking out loud on social media, as if personal punditry will solve our national crisis. But instead of showcasing our political loyalties, instead of condemning or defending President Trump or President-elect Biden, instead of comparing the violence of summer riots to the invasion of the Rotunda and congressional floors – instead of continuing to pick sides – isn’t it time to take a step back, take a moment for prayer, for listening, for repenting, for forgiving, and for healing?

God has a plan for history, for this moment. Where do we fit into this plan? Aren’t we all guilty of quarrelling, even if not politically; haven’t we all known dispute and anger – all the ingredients of violence and war? Jesus tells us to love our enemies and reminds us that besides loving the Lord our God, the most important commandment is to love our neighbor.

Greed and ambition are the root of bloodshed. We learn this from looking at every murder starting with Cain killing his brother Abel. Violence arises when we refuse to accept God’s greatness and his plan for peace and reconciliation among people. That plan is simple. It is loving our neighbor as ourselves regardless of their creed, color, or politics. This simple strategy is hard, but it will bring hope and healing. Much good can yet come from this moment if it propels us away from idolatry and dependency on human leaders, and brings us back to more reliance on prayer, faith in God, and the knowledge that we have to work out our challenges person to person by loving each other.

America, we can do better. We have to stop demonizing and disrespecting those with whom we disagree. Political parties don’t define us, our common humanity does. Jesus teaches us the best way to deal with our fellow humans, even when disagreement escalates to enmity. “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:44–45).

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Heinrich Arnold 1

J. Heinrich Arnold

J. Heinrich Arnold serves as a senior pastor for the Bruderhof in the United States and abroad.

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