I read a post of Facebook today that said something like “if you need any more proof that the USA needs to get back to its Christian roots, just look at the rioting in the streets.”
Now there are two ways to read this.
- Rioters need Jesus to heal from the injustices visited against them
- Oppressors need Jesus to realize that they need to stop the oppression.
I’m not going to get into that argument. I believe both are true. It is also true however, there will always be people who reject Jesus (much to my despair). And Jesus, if you really believe the gospel, will never force himself on anyone. So what’s the solution? I believe we have it from the Civil Rights era, from a man who was a pastor himself.
“You can’t legislate morals…it may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me”. ~Martin Luther King Jr, Address at Western Michigan University, December 18, 1963.
The full text of Dr. King’s speech can be found here. http://wmich.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/MLK.pdf
Notice that Dr. King does not talk about evangelizing the KKK. He doesn’t talk about how Southern Politicians need more Jesus so that they can see the humanity of the people they are hurting. He alludes to the ultimate goal when he says “The law cannot make a man love me.” Yes that is the goal at the end of the day: reconciliation and love for on another. But let us realize that the end isn’t here yet, and there is real hard work to be done.
If this is a real concern; if these issues are real issues that need to be dealt with; if you seriously believe that this country needs Jesus to move beyond this time of racial conflict, then you must also realize that steps need to be taken to stop the bleeding that is happening now. It is hard to talk about heart disease with a man who is bleeding to death.
Yes, we need Jesus. Yes we need morals and we need repentance and we need to deal with the specters of a past that we’d rather not give voice to. All these things take time and while we are taking time dealing with them there is still blood in the streets. There are modern ramifications of not having dealt with these issues sooner and people are suffering because of it.