In times like these, old words slip too easily from our lips.
“God is in control.”
“I know it’s hard to understand, but God is sovereign.”
“It’s all part of God’s plan, God’s ways are not our ways.”
As sincere and heartfelt as those words might be, they are not true. And they are not what is needed right now.
The terrorist attack at two Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, was no act of God. This was a not part of God’s plan. God is not responsible for these atrocious acts. We are. Christians are.
The church has failed to speak out strongly enough against the evils of white supremacy and white nationalism. We have failed to confront it, even name it for what it is. Our complacency has laid the foundation that this act of terror was built on. We can tweet our “thoughts and prayers” and post our condemnation of this vile act but if we don’t examine ourselves, we will continue to be complicit in this atrocity.
How many of us bought into the same propaganda that motivated the shooter? That Muslims are taking over our country or that this housing crisis is all because of ‘mass immigration,’ or that refugees are stealing resources that should go to the poor. How many of us have heard the same political rhetoric from our friends, even our family? How many of us have had these discussions in church?
So yes, let us grieve. But, in your grief do not forget how we got here. We welcomed the demon of division into our midst. We played their game, allowing them to deceive us, to see God’s children as enemies, as the other.
But they are not other. They are us.
Our faith means nothing if we allow it to be overshadowed by our political beliefs. If we allow our commitment to love our neighbor to wane in the light of our own political ideology.
So, let your grief drive you forward. Let it wake you up. For now is the time for action. It is time to love, not simply theologize about its meaning.
To love our neighbor in the midst of this crisis is to stand for our Muslim whanau, to stand with them. It is to resist the hate that has been dressed up in respectability, to unmask the political rhetoric and ideology disguised as “freedom of speech,” or “sensible immigration policy.”
It is time for the church to pick up the prophetic mantle from where we have left it lying in the mud, to stand against all forms of racism, oppression, and discrimination — especially those found within our midst.
We are called to be a community that sheds light on all the lies and distortions of the enemy, a people that oppose the narratives of hate and fear that dominate and bind the world.
For too long we have been silent, conforming ourselves to the patterns of this world, allowing ourselves to be distracted by the wealth, power, and privilege of the Western Empire. It is time we remembered who we are and reclaimed our identity as people of Christ.
In the wake of this tragedy, in light of the suffocating realization that this was done in our name, let us renounce all forms of white supremacy and white nationalism. Let us preach love and acceptance for the refugee, the immigrant, and the poor, from every pulpit, from every stage in this nation and around the world.
For we are all God’s children. And in Christ, they are not other. They are us.