The gospel calls us to choose kindness — even when it seems so ineffectual for society. This is my latest letter to the good people of University Baptist Church of Austin, Texas.
How much more can we say about the hate that afflicts our world today? Whatever judgments we might make, the day’s headlines show the inadequacy of our conclusions. Things are worse than we thought.
Last week authorities intercepted bombs sent to critics of the president. A man tried to enter a black church to kill parishioners, and when he couldn’t get in he went to a nearby grocery store and gunned down two African Americans. Another gunman entered a synagogue yelling that he wanted to “kill Jews” and murdered 11 people.
The president, eyeing next Tuesday’s midterm elections and knowing full well the political expediency of hate, talked about the value of armed security at houses of worship and the necessity of the death penalty. Then he turned toward our southern border to give hate another focus: a caravan is heading north with “many gang members and some very bad people,” he said. He called the caravan “an invasion of our country,” and ordered 5,000 military troops to the border. He said the deployment could grow to 15,000 soldiers. To top it off, he declared his intention to deny birthright citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants.
The president rises with hate. He understands the pervasiveness of hate, he recognizes his skill in stirring it up, and he sees the political rewards. Civility, graciousness, compassion — kindness — offer no such benefits. That is a sobering judgment, one that, ironically, we may share with him.
What, then, are we to do with this conclusion? The gospel calls us to love — even when it seems so small compared to hate. The gospel calls us to choose kindness — even when it seems so ineffectual for society. The gospel calls us to walk another way — even when the path narrows and narrows.
The witness of our faith has always been that God “makes a way out of no way,” as was said in the civil rights movement. So we choose kindness. We gamble on love.
This day, All Saints Day, may we trust again the ancient testimony of the One who “by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20).
The peace of another way be with you,