Faith

In the Wake of Charlottesville, Faith Leaders Look Forward

Searching for peace, calm and answers where there is division, anger and chaos right now

Sam Rohrer, president of the American Pastors Network, a national network of pastors that focuses on constitutional and biblical teachings, said in a statement, “The deplorable circumstances in Charlottesville should indeed get the attention of all Americans. Yet in the midst of this event, for which both sides share blame, these questions must not be overlooked: What has happened in America to produce such increasing hostilities and anger among our people?”

He added, “Is unity again achievable? The answer is yes. What unity demands is an agreement on a common body of truth. In the United States, that common body of truth was found in the Judeo-Christian scriptures, where there is God who created life and then ‘endowed certain unalienable rights’ to the people, who ‘under God’ agree with God that He is perfect, that mankind is sinful and not naturally good. But redemption and healing through faith in Jesus Christ alone can transform the mind and the heart, and heal families, communities and the nation. No one race, no one color, no one nationality has a claim to this truth. Yet true equality, true justice and true unity can, in fact, result when people from all walks of life agree with God on these truths.”

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On Wednesday in Westwood, New Jersey, a group of the community’s faithful came together for a vigil to pray, worship and encourage one another toward love. They were one of many that did so. “Love is an action,” Rev. Mack Brandon said. “It’s time to aggressively love.”

The opposite of love is not hate — it is apathy. Pastors, ministers, priests, and others who are attempting to follow Christ are encouraging all to love his or her neighbor.

Society communicates in emojis, hashtags, and sound bites these days. Context takes up too much time if it requires more than 140 characters. What was intended in communication is often overlooked — for messages that are twisted. But men and women of faith are grasping onto what they have been instructed to do: love.

Why is love so important? Because humankind is in a state of sin and in need of forgiveness. The apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” Jesus instructed the rich young ruler in Mark 12 to first love God and then, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “Love never fails.”

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To love one’s neighbor is not easy — but love for one another overcomes bias, racism, bigotry, sexism, and hatred. Love unites. True, genuine love for fellow men and women, seeing them as individuals created by God, stirs commonality. 

History cannot and should not be erased. The valuable lessons of the past guide the future. The Bible is full of stories of men and women, kings, lepers, prostitutes, and fishermen who loved God and served Him, but still sinned. They still fell short of the standard of perfection. And people can read about them, knowing that despite their mistakes, God made a way. He created a path of unity to draw men and women back to Himself.

Such a path still exists today. A way to unify not just people together, but people to their Creator.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Katie Nations, married for 15 years, is a working mother of three young children. She lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 

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