I’m 34 years old and I’ve never seen the nation as fractured and divided as it is now. Maybe some of you have, and there might be a few of you who have experienced worse. Perhaps one of my closest friends was right when he said that the most fractured periods were in every single moment leading up to this one. It’s just that the division is getting attention on a large scale.
Maybe one of the benefits in all of this is that we are finally being forced to look at the filth, the sewage that keeps us from truly loving each other. But it’s only beneficial to notice the junk if there’s a plan to do something about it. Information alone does nothing to bring change to anyone or anything. It’s application, the courage to move, that brings transformation.
And that’s what I’m calling for here. This is my voice, my desires, but I hope it echoes the cry of many other hearts because we are the ambassadors of Christ. We are the laborers in the field with tools designed to cultivate love, honor, respect, and unity. Reflecting the perfect love of God to the world is an assignment that has been given to each person claiming that Yeshua is their Lord and Savior, that he is their friend.
It’s a love that heals, restores, and unifies. It draws people in and elevates relationship to the top of the priority list. It’s no wonder that this kind of love is the central theme in the two greatest commandments ever given: Love the Lord your God and Love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37-39).
Church leaders and national prophetic voices, I’m calling on you to take my requests to heart, to really consider using the platforms you’ve been given to start a movement–a movement of reconciliation. Yes, every believer is a member of the body and so each one of us is responsible to love in extravagant ways, to stop living in a way that promotes division, but God has given you a platform so I’m asking you to lead the way. Love in a radical way that’s unashamed. Put everything on the line for it because it’s the only thing that will change our nation, that will bring us together.
In the following list I use words like “you” and I know that sometimes things like that can come across as accusatory. Please know that’s not my heart, so I ask for grace as you read this. My intent is not to tear down but only to build up.
Here’s what I’m asking from you:
- Please consider ending the rhetoric about President Trump being God’s man. Over the past week I’ve heard many of you mention all of the good he can do for the country and how some of you prophesied that he would be in the White House weeks ago and even years ago.
I’m asking you to stop implying that God placed Trump in the White House–at least for the time being. The reason I ask has nothing to do with you being right or wrong. You might be right. God may have plucked him up and set him down in the Oval Office and years from now we may look back and smile at all the good he did with his opportunity. But perpetuating that narrative right now is driving a wedge of division deeper into the nation. It’s not a position that heals but one that pushes us further apart.
There are many who have been gripped by fear over the past week. Especially the black community, minorities, Muslims, and the LGTB groups who are facing what they perceive as shaky and very uncertain futures for a variety of reasons. Many of them feel devalued, stomped on, and disregarded. Whether you think these fears and feelings are legitimate or not, they are very real to the ones being tormented by them. Your job as lovers of Jesus and leaders of his church is not to dismiss them but to value them, to acknowledge them, and to try and understand them.
So I’m asking you to stop promoting Trump for now because, for these people groups and many others, he’s at the very center of their discomfort. Instead, reach out to these groups with words and actions that make them feel loved, cared for, and most of all heard. Let them know that the church is standing alongside them instead of giving the impression that we are squarely behind the one who strikes terror into their hearts. And if you think that’s being overdramatic, I encourage you to speak with some of them if you haven’t already.
- Please do whatever you can do to boldly lead us into racial reconciliation. The last several years and election have brought the racial divide into an intense spotlight. It cannot and should not be ignored any longer and I’m asking you to take the lead in recognition and confession.
88% of black voters watched America (including 81% of white evangelicals) elect a president who 83% of them think is racist. Take a moment to consider that and empathize with them. Along with a host of other race-centered events within the last year or so, things are in dire straits.
Please lead the church in striving to understand the plight of the black community and ethnic minorities. Confess the roles we have played in their pain and seek their forgiveness. Bring us together by being an example of humility and love.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know what the answer is here. The problem is certainly complex. But I think the first steps are to reach out, invest the time to understand, confess, and seek forgiveness. And I’m asking you to blaze that trail.
- Love extravagantly in all things. Build up instead of tear down; unify rather than divide. Risk everything you have to courageously model the perfect love of God in the world. Let us hear it in your words and see it in your actions.Lay down any agendas involving selfish ambition and pick up the cause of others. Be quick to admit wrong and be the first to ask for forgiveness. Value the concerns of people you don’t understand. Show me what Jesus looks like on a national stage.
Some of you have been doing amazing things with all three of my requests and I’m thankful for the leaders of the church and the ways they have loved the people of this nation. But I think we all can do better. I think we all need to do better and it starts with a voice followed by action.
What we need is a movement, one that runs swiftly with the waters of all-consuming love. If you resonate with the things I’d like to see from our leaders, join your voice with mine and let’s do all we can to repair this divided nation with self-sacrificial love.
U.S. map photo via Unsplash.com, edited by Dan Wilkinson.
About Jesse Birkey
Jesse Birkey married his wife, Kara, in 2003 and they now live in the Tampa Bay area with their two children. Jesse works full time as a Firefighter/Paramedic and Kara is an administrative assistant. Their true passion is reflecting the heart of God to the world around them and helping as many people as possible come alive with Jesus. Find them online at jessebirkey.com.