This week was extremely difficult. We find Russell Moore's words wise and timely. In a piece written right after the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, he reminds us to think carefully about concepts like original sin and politics:
These situations ought to cause us, as Christians, to understand our own doctrine of sin. The Bible speaks of sin both in terms of how we relate to others personally and how we relate to one another corporately. Sometimes we speak of issues that are “political” as though they have no bearing on issues of gospel and discipleship. It is telling that we tend to be quite selective in what issues we deem to be too “political” to speak about with a word from God. It is also telling that we often don’t consider what it even means to be “political.” The “political” is not merely the partisan. “Politics” describes what we act together to do corporately in the public arena. Joseph’s brothers are acting “politically” when they throw him into the pit and sell him into Egyptian slavery. The fact that they are acting corporately doesn’t absolve each of them for responsibility personally. The Bible speaks of sin both in strikingly personal terms. The one who is sexually immoral sins against his own body (1 Cor. 6:18). The Bible also speaks of sin in terms of the way we organize structures—whether that’s unjust courts or the oppression of laborers in the fields (Jas. 5:4-6).
The very next day brought news of five police officers killed in a planned ambush in Dallas during an otherwise peaceful protest march, only compounding the week's grief and anguish. Moore then wrote about how pastors might preach on Sunday in light of all these events in a way that brings the truth of the Gospel to bear on our congregations in whatever way it is most needed:
Some have asked if I would put forward a sermon outline for pastors to use this Sunday. That’s impossible because the needed comfort or correction will vary from church to church. Look at the social media feeds of your church members. Consider your conversations with them. If it seems that your church ignored the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, then it may well be that the struggles of black lives are invisible to your people; speak to that. If it seems that your church members were concerned greatly about the injustices apparent in those situations (and the many just like them) but don’t know to think or pray about the attack in Dallas, speak to that. Ask before you preach whether most people in your congregation are angry, scared, confused, defensive, or apathetic. Knowing that will illuminate you on where your people need to be led by the Word of God.
May we recommit ourselves to the work of peacemaking, Gospel proclamation, love, and reconciliation. Our prayers and grief are with the families of all affected by the violence in various cities this week.