As I watched the news last night, I felt deeply saddened. What had started as a peaceful protest about the scandal of racism, has resulted in even more violence and hatred. That is, a reflection of the very thing being opposed. The reason is of course is simple. Those that protest are, like you and me, themselves in need of the very grace of God.
Whenever I read through the Scriptures, I am always struck by the amount of division we read within its pages. The sad decline begins in Genesis 3, when the intimate relationship between God and man is broken. Immediately, a new fault line between man and woman emerges. As the story unfolds, we soon witness the killing of a brother, family feuds and ultimately the division of nations. As these divisions perpetuate people separate, not only over sex and race, but over personal loyalties, wealth and opinion.
So as Christians what hope do we have and what message should we proclaim? The answer is obvious and must be proclaimed with courage and with clarity. That is, sinful and broken humanity will never be reconciled until we are firstly reconciled with God. The answer is revealed, when we like Paul discover that it was; ‘God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him’ (2 Corinthians 5:18).
I leave you with the well-known story of the Duke of Wellington. As a man of faith, the Duke of Wellington would regularly take Communion at his local church where the tradition was that parishioners would come down to the front and be served by the minister while the kneeled at the altar. Once at the table nobody else dared come forward until he had finished. One day, at the height of the Duke’s fame and power, he was taking Communion when a poorly-dressed elderly man walked up one of the church’s aisles, and when reaching the Communion table, knelt down close by the side of the Duke of Wellington.
Immediately there was tension in the church, and a small commotion from the other parishioners present interrupted the reverent silence. Someone came down and touched the poor man on the shoulder, and whispered to him to move further away from the Duke, or even better – to rise and walk away, and wait until the Duke had finished receiving the bread and the wine.
But the great army commander had seen the meaning of that touch on the shoulder and perhaps partly heard the whisper in the old man’s ear. The Duke of Wellington quickly clasped the old man’s hand and held him to prevent the old man from standing up. In a respectful but firm whisper, the Duke of Wellington said to the elderly gentleman: “Don’t move…. We are all equal here.”