After Charlottesville: the WHOLE Gospel

This Facebook post of Christ-follower, husband, father, pastor, humanitarian, activist, and author of Overrated, Eugene Cho, was shared over 3,000 times in the wake of the horror in Charlottesville that occurred over the weekend:

Charlottesville. So heartbreaking and infuriating. We weep and mourn over the hatred in the hearts of these white nationalists. We weep and mourn but we can’t give up . . . 

. . . I’m reminded of the utter importance of showing up. I’m grateful for the news media, law enforcement, clergy, and peaceful protesters that are currently there to report, protect, pray, and protest.

And this is an invitation to us. May we not be mere bystanders. May we keep pressing forward. Seek justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly. Commit to truth-telling, justice, reconciliation, peacemaking. Follow the ways of Christ. Every day. And it’s important to note that we don’t have to go to Charlottesville to do this. In fact, it’s more important that we do this exactly where we’re at. May we live out the call to reconciliation in our churches, workplaces, neighborhoods, schools, and our dining tables. Lord, may it be so . . . 

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

And later on in the day, Cho specifically addressed those to whom Christ has given authority:

Church leaders:

Thank you for your leadership and service to your local church. Leadership is tough. For those that haven’t been in leadership, they won’t understand. At times, we ought to remain silent . . . but this isn’t one of those times.

Be courageous.
Be pastoral. Be prophetic.
Preach the whole Gospel.

We couldn’t agree more. Those with spiritual authority, as well as every believer—especially in the light of this travesty—are called to speak out and bring the whole Gospel to the world.

The Gospel is whole in the sense that it is about what God has done for us, but it is also about what we’re to do because of what was done for us. We are to love because he first loved us. John Crilly, co-author of one of Q Place’s primary resources, The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations, describes it this way:

God’s love is not scarce or about to run out. He is not stingy with his love, parceling it out in tiny bits. He is not controlling with his love, holding it back to punish us. God is an ardent and exuberant lover. He first communicated his love through his creation. . . . But God’s incredible expression of sacrificial love for us culminated in the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. [The apostle] John quoted Jesus himself when he wrote, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend” (John 15:13).

Any way you look at it, [God’s] love is extreme. . . . And it is this incredible love that Paul implores us to grasp in Ephesians 3:18-19: “May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.”

My nutritional intake provides fuel for my body. If I take in calories without using them, my body accumulates that fuel as fat, and I grow less and less healthy. Similarly, my soul is not designed to take in the spiritual nutrition of God’s love without then turning it outward in loving action toward others. . . . God invites me to have my heart transformed by loving him so that love for others follows as the natural outflow.

If I truly appreciate God’s love, I increasingly love what he loves—other people, both those who are close to him and those who are separated from him. As a result, my focus realigns to include loving and caring for others as a way of life. Paul’s instructions in Galatians 5:13-14 reflect Jesus’ teaching: “Do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

This is not a suggestion to take under advisement. Loving your neighbor is foundational to the Christian faith. What if Christians were known all over the world for this love?

Despite our shortcomings, God is still madly in love with each of us. He considers us his treasure, his beloved children. He dotes over us as our heavenly Father. So what are we to do with this outlandish love from God? The answer is evident in 1 John 4:19: “We love because he first loved us.”

_________

Eugene Cho’s post was not the only one being shared over the weekend. The following one also showed up on the countless personal news feeds of believers and non-believers alike:

Until America figures this all out, I’m going to be holding doors for strangers, letting people cut in front of me in traffic, saying good morning, being patient with a waiter, and smiling at strangers, as often as I am provided the opportunity. Because I will not stand idly by and let children live in a world where unconditional love is invisible. Join me in showing love to someone who may not necessarily deserve it. Find your own way to swing the pendulum in the direction of love. Because today, sadly, hate is winning.

Copied from a friend who copied it from someone else, who copied from someone else and so on. Pass it on . . . 

“Love describes God. He is loving; he acts on his love; he loves each of us. . . at his core, love is God’s identity. It is who he is, and he cannot be something other than love” (John Crilly, The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations). Fellow believer? Neither can you.

Hate may have triumphed Saturday, but love has already won for eternity. We challenge you today and in the days and weeks to come, to let the world know that you follow the Lord of Love. Yes, pass it on.

The way of Christ is peace.
The method of Christ is love.
The means of Christ is invitation.
The ends of Christ are unity.
The way of Christ
Is the way we follow.

Litany for Charlottesville, VA, by Fran Pratt

 

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