I’m writing this column on Thursday, January 7, 2021.
That matters. I don’t know if henceforth all one will have to do is say “1/6” to bring forth images of a terrible assault on our nation; probably not, but I hope we never forget the assault and its lessons.
“December 7, 1941: a date which will live in infamy,” does that for many of us. For many more of us, “9/11” does the same thing.
I wasn’t alive in 1941, but I can imagine how Dec. 7 and 8 must have felt. I’ve seen videos of the USS Arizona in flames, and I’ve stood reverently at the spot.
I remember watching the images of the 9/11 assault on the Twin Towers, a despicable attack on America. I remember going to bed in shock and with deep sadness that evening in 2001 and waking up the next morning, still reeling but knowing instinctively that our world would never be exactly the same.
Yesterday and this morning, January 6-7, 2021, felt to me uncomfortably similar to September 11-12, 2001. Sadly indeed, and with no intent to diminish 9/11, I say that to me yesterday’s assault almost feels worse. Why? Because we did it to ourselves. Tears from self-induced pain are a very different sort.
Finding perspective takes time, and we are still very close to this self-defeat and its appalling images. But it seems to me that a mob is a mob is a mob, be they a percentage of far left protesters turned rioters (last summer) or a percentage of far right protesters turned rioters (yesterday). People who incite them, pour out gasoline and then play with matches, watch the fire, and act surprised at the burning are far from any moral high ground.
The images of hoodlums scaling the walls and breaking into the halls of Congress are heartbreaking. One of the most revolting images of all (and that’s saying something) is the picture of a United States senator raising his clenched fist toward protestors in solidarity and affirmation. Granted, he did that before the scum had scaled the walls; the image is still revolting. Clenched fists are exactly what we cannot afford, whatever our political perspective.
“Make no mistake: this is not a matter of politics but of biblical morality!” So I once heard a preacher proclaiming from a pulpit just before he went on to preach a “far left” politically-charged sermon. Ironically, a preacher across the street, preaching a “far right” sermon could have used exactly the same introduction, word for word. And each one, sincerely believing every word he said, diminished the gospel of Christ to politics.
What we’re seeing is a matter for tears; it’s a time for silence, repentance, and reflection, and not a time for self-righteousness or “virtue-signaling.”
The Apostle Paul warned warring Christians, “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you may be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:15). When hate-filled beasts who were once human die with their fangs locked in each other’s bodies, neither wins and both become corpses, decaying and abhorrent.
I wonder if Christians will step up? The One we claim as Lord has told us that loving those who look just like us is not impressive: “Even the pagans do that.” But unclenching our fists and, in the name of Christ, hugging someone whose politics or lifestyle we find disgusting and never plan to condone, is, well, Christlike and impressive indeed.
Of course, zealots (from whatever perspective) with clenched fists will try to portray such as a spineless betrayal and lack of conviction. They will never understand; they’ll just run for more gas cans and matches. They always have; they always will.
But the Savior who refused to play power games by the world’s rules and died with forgiveness on his lips? He will understand.
Oh, yes, Christ will understand.
Copyright 2021 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.