Supremacy so͞oˈpreməsē noun
the state or condition of being superior to all others in authority, power, or status, as in, “the supremacy of the king.”
Let’s start with the definition, shall we? For at least insofar as Mr. Webster is concerned, “supremacy” implies ultimate authority. And at least insofar as the Christian faith tells us, that belongs to One and One only, specifically, Jesus Christ. Which means that any ridiculous notion such as “white supremacy” is not only nonsensical, but it is dead wrong and dangerously blasphemous to anyone who names the name of Jesus.
Likewise, “racism,” defined as “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior,” is indefensibly at odds with the biblical proclamation that “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” What’s more, we could say the same about sexism and all kinds of other ‘isms, for that matter.
So it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist (no offense to my friends at NASA) to tell us that there is no place at all within the Christian church—in any of its varied expressions—for attitudes which would condone the hateful rhetoric that some are espousing today and that came to an ugly head at Charlottesville over the weekend. No. Place. At. All. Full stop. Period.
To be certain, as offensive as their rhetoric may be, racists are welcome in our church, just as sinners of every flavor are. For I believe that we have the only antidote to the poisonous contagion within their hearts that can genuinely change them. War mongers can come, too, for the same reason, though we’ll ask them to check their payloads at the front door. Heck, we’ll even take gossips, gluttons, and lapsed Methodists who have forgotten how to get here over the years.
But along with our open doors, we’re going to keep open hearts, to coin the United Methodist marketing department—that is, hearts that are genuinely receptive to all, irrespective of whatever their human condition or circumstances may be. (We’ll even keep open minds up to a point–so long, that is, as they are not so open that our brains fall out.)
It doesn’t mean we don’t have doctrines worth defending and standards that should make us stand out from the rest of the world. It similarly doesn’t imply that all religions are interchangeable or even that all belief systems are worth believing in. But it does suggest that when it comes to how we treat one another, we will do so with deference and respect to all. And all means y’all, no matter where you may live.
In short, the sermon series for September at Christ Church on “Lost and Found: Civility, Compassion, and Community,” just got a whole lot more relevant. For now more than ever, we actually need some “climate change” in the world, at least insofar as the political and spiritual climate is concerned.
And who knew that Methodists could have such a meteorological ministry? For it’s up to us to start lowering the ambient temperatures around us, even in the heat of summer, beginning with our own.
No matter how you may choose to define the problem.
Great as always, Chap.
Well said, Chap. Jim and I will be in Ireland (Northern and the Republic of) for most of September, but I look forward to streaming the sermons when we get back. The lack of civility and compassion currently so in vogue in some quarters of our society, as well as the inability of many to do unto others has been both disheartening and discouraging.
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It is just a human condition that is, for some people, hard to tame and easily encouraged. In a way its counterbalance, good will and guarded tolerance, does not show and is recognized as easily and dramatically. This too, shall pass.
Chap – I’ve been thinking a lot about “idols” and Isaiah 2:17-18, “The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day; and the idols will totally disappear.” Do you think there is a connection to idols and confederate statues? If it would bring healing to bring down these “statues”, shouldn’t we? or are those statues “idols” of an era gone by? Instead of taking them down unceremoniously, maybe there should be some kind of recognition and placement of a new marker symbolizing a new era of reconciliation (an Ebeneezer as in 1Samuel 7:2-4). Just seems like we’re missing an opportunity. Just some thoughts…perhaps a bit presumptuous…