“History repeats itself. Has to. No one listens.” Steve Turner, poet.
During the 1940’s Dietrich Bonhoeffer penned the classic Life Together. His reflections were largely based on his experiences in the secret seminaries hiding from the Nazi’s in Germany. Bonhoeffer was later executed by the Nazi’s for his role in resisting the “supremacy” they purported. Perhaps this can serve as a jumping off point for a few observations.
- Any claim or action that claims supremacy of one person over another is fundamentally against our nature (Gen. 1:26) and the redeeming work of the Gospel (Eph. 2:14). This supremency absolutely needs to be denounced and we must not even have the appearance of toleration for those who promote it. I am grateful that we belong to a denomination that has already publicly decried such belief and behavior.
- We must tell … Again, we must be clear that this so called supremacy is not part of the gracious story of the Word. To quote words attributed to Bonhoeffer, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil … Not to speak is to speak.” What does this mean? Our speech should be that of prayer, both public and private. We need to be speaking to our family and neighbors, encouraging when we can, denouncing when we must. Finally, we must exhort each other in following the right path.
- But, we must also … show: Telling is action. PRAYER is action. But it is not the last action to be taken. All Christians should do all that they can in their various spheres of influence and as neighbors to bring healing and reconciliation. We must weep with those who weep. Listen to the hurting, and through practical and courageous love, prove false the claims of white supremacy, even to the point of openly standing with those being attacked by white supremacists. The cost of discipleship for Bonhoeffer was his life– a cost he was willing to pay in looking at his Savior. Again Bonhoeffer, “not to act is to act.” (There are many opportunities for these practical acts of love right here in our midst. Please talk to me if you are willing but don’t know where to start.)
- Finally, we must abide in our Gospel core. It is only as we draw deeply from the basic Gospel truth, we are a lot worse off in ourselves than we think, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever could imagine, that we will have the right mix of humility and boldness to engage this present moment with the grace of Christ.