As the events of this weekend played out across the nation, and even here in Utah with protests turning to riots and all kinds of mayhem, I felt unsettled. I felt God was leading me to share something about both the riots and the virus. There is something both these riots and COVID-19 have in common: We, as a nation, are extremely divided.
The way I see it, the riots that happened over the weekend, which were sparked by the unjust death of George Floyd, lead us to a very similar place as we have been with COVID-19. That is, there are some people taking it very seriously, and some people not taking it seriously at all, and everyone in between.
In the case of the riots, there are people who feel like this is a great move to finally fight back against the injustice of racism, while there are other people who see the injustice but are appalled by the crime and violence, and some who are just fed up with the whole thing.
Regardless, no matter where you stand, there is someone on the opposing side of your point of view. I made the mistake of reading through some Facebook posts and comments yesterday and there were many, many inconsiderate mean things said by every side.
I guess it makes sense though, because we all naturally defend our little kingdom of what we believe is right or wrong in the world. We build our walls and point our canons out protecting what we believe to be true. Our worldview leads our response.
What we believe about how the world should interact with us and what we believe about how it should interact with others, is what guides our convictions. It is what leads us to really isolate in quarantine or go out and interact, social distance or shake hands and hug, wear a mask or not wear a mask, or protest some injustices while staying silent about others. And sometimes these decisions are made regardless of facts, regardless of truth, regardless of evidence; they are made because of how we feel about it all.
And where do these feelings come from? Our families, our peers, our political views, the media (social or mainstream), our college professors, our own research, just to name a few. Somehow these worldviews become center stage and end up governing our direction in life.
I guess my one thought is this: Should these influences be in the top sphere of influence in our lives? If God is real and the Authority, should He not be the main and direct guidance of our worldview? Or do we read the Bible through our Republican or Democratic worldview?
Think about it for a minute: If all these things were subject to one thing, the gospel, the world looks different. Everything we could talk about looks different. What if we saw the world in this way? What if we saw the world through the eyes of a God who loves all His children, even when they do irresponsible things? The God whose heart breaks with us when we experience pain, loss, and injustice. This God who created all, but allowed all to have the freedom to choose. To choose right and wrong. To choose love and hate. To choose Him or not. And no matter what we choose, this is a God who still went to the cross to pay for our sins against Him, because no matter what, He still considers us worth dying for.
I would argue that to see the world through that lens changes everything. I don’t think Jesus sees a black man being killed by a white cop. I think He sees one of His innocent children being murdered by one of His corrupt children and His heart breaks for both.
If we were to see people through the eyes of Jesus, I wonder how we would see the protestors in downtown Salt Lake City? How about the people who wear masks or don’t? There might even be room to see the brave social media warriors a little differently.
I believe God sees the world a little differently than we do. It is because Jesus sees us differently that He died for us and paid the ultimate price for us to be forgiven and reconciled to our Creator. He died for our sins 2,000 years ago. I hadn’t even sinned yet, but He knew I would and paid the price anyway.
It is in light of all of this that I share these verses with you from Phillipians chapter four:
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (versus 4-7 NLT).
There is hope in Jesus. No matter what is happening in the world. I believe that if we could develop a worldview that is subject to the gospel, it would bring us together in grace, truth, joy, and freedom.
The bottom line for me is that if our security is in the world, it will always lack a firm footing. People, government, mainstream media, at some point will not only let us down, but actually knock our feet out from under us as well. If our footing is in our Creator, where we stand is always solid and gives us a new way to see the people we walk through this life, this world, with.
See you out there.
Phil Wiebe is the lead pastor at Lakeview Church in Stansbury Park.