Keep­ing faith in tur­bu­lent times

The Covington News - - OBITUARIES - E. CHIP OWENS COLUM­NIST Rev. E. Chip Owens is a grad­u­ate of the Gam­mon The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary on the His­toric Cam­pus of the In­ter­de­nom­i­na­tional The­o­log­i­cal Cen­ter. He has served as a Se­nior Pas­tor in the Cov­ing­ton Area. He is a well sought af­ter preacher a

One of the largest as­pects of faith and re­li­gion is not our as­sur­ance of sal­va­tion or whether we will ex­pe­ri­ence par­adise in the af­ter­life, but our ethic of em­pa­thy and com­pas­sion here on earth. As we turn our at­ten­tions to cur­rent events and form our var­i­ous view­points, we have to ex­am­ine our lens and fit it to our ethic. As we form our thoughts and opin­ions on the is­sues of to­day, where is our em­pa­thy in the process?

One of the most con­tro­ver­sial is­sues in Amer­ica to­day is race re­la­tions. Though we have made tremen­dous strides from the 1800s and even 1960s, we still have miles to go. With that no­tion, we find the ac­tivist group Black Lives Mat­ter (BLM). Many peo­ple across the coun­try have taken is­sue with the group purely out of mis­un­der­stand­ing. With that mis­un­der­stand­ing we were in­tro­duced to the All Lives and sub­se­quently Blue Lives Mat­ter as al­ter­na­tives to the BLM move­ment as if these terms were mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive. The func­tion of the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment was to bring at­ten­tion to the dis­pro­por­tion­ate killings and use of ex­ces­sive force on African Amer­i­cans and peo­ple of color by po­lice. This was not to say all po­lice were bad or that in­tra-racial vi­o­lence, like all other races, was not an is­sue. It was sim­ply to say, African Amer­i­cans feel that some po­lice are gun­ning them down in the streets like an­i­mals and the num­bers prove it. They felt like re­cent events have shown that an­i­mals have more sa­cred worth in Amer­ica than African Amer­i­cans. Dog lives have found jus­tice when they are killed and Black Lives mat­ter also. In re­cent state his­tory, we saw a per­son re­ceive jail time for their part in dog fight­ing, but un­armed African Amer­i­cans have been be­ing killed by bad of­fi­cers and no one has been con­victed as if to say they did it to them­selves. This is the cry of the move­ment.

The Christ of scrip­ture did all that he could to change the con­di­tion of the marginal­ized and em­pathized with those who did not share his same views of eco­nomic sta­tus to the point that the Apos­tle Paul would later write out of his un­der­stand­ing of Christ that we should "re­joice with them that re­joice and weep with those who weep... and as much as pos­si­ble live in har­mony with all hu­mankind." (Ro­mans 12:15,18)

In our cur­rent cul­tural con­text the ques­tion comes, where is the per­son of faith? Who cries for the moth­ers and fam­ily mem­bers that bury their loved ones in these sad in­stances? Who com­forts and of­fers gen­uine prayers of con­cern for these fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing their time of hurt? Not just African Amer­i­cans, but any­one we may find a dif­fer­ing opin­ion with. In tur­bu­lent times, are we able to lay aside dif­fer­ences to care for and about one an­other? Je­sus found him­self in con­ver­sa­tion with a wo­man in John 14 who was of a dif­fer­ent race. In his in­ter­ac­tion, he puts aside the many dif­fer­ences they had to of­fer her what she needed. What he of­fered would change her life and per­spec­tive. At the tur­bu­lent point in her life the dif­fer­ences didn't mat­ter, he un­der­stood her need and stepped in to ful­fill it. He was em­pa­thetic to her sit­u­a­tion and com­pas­sion­ate in how he re­sponded to her needs and her sit­u­a­tion. Given Paul's theme, he put him­self where she was in or­der to help bring about a change in her life.

To that end we must ask our­selves, what if it were our son, nephew, or hus­band that was killed in a rou­tine traf­fic stop? what if it were our son or daugh­ter that was mur­dered while en­joy­ing their night out with friends? What if it was our fam­ily mem­ber that was slaugh­tered for wear­ing a uni­form? What if it were our prop­erty taxes or well-be­ing is ef­fected by trash sites or poi­soned wa­ter?

If our faith truly guides our de­ci­sion mak­ing, then our ethic of em­pa­thy and com­pas­sion would be top pri­or­ity. We would in the words of Steven Covey, "seek first to un­der­stand, then to be un­der­stood." Show your faith with your em­pa­thy and com­pas­sion. Don't al­low your­self to be guided by mis­un­der­stand­ing. Al­low em­pa­thy and love to be your guide. Do no harm, Do good, and stay in love with God. "Do jus­tice, Love Mercy and Walk humbly with your God. "(Micah 6:8).

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