"Yes I wouldn't mind gassing up some kikes(Jews)".
This was the startling answer that was given from a white supremacist to a few of us today, as we stood talking with him and his friend in front of my city's Robert E. Lee statue. We all sat there startled by the answer to the question: "do you want Jews wiped off the earth or something?"
Today was like any other day. Men's breakfast with my church, then an awesome coffee class that we hosted at my job. I decided to walk home today from work to get my workout and a few miles covered, when I see two men standing by the Robert E. Lee statue with their confederate flags. I instantly call my friend to tell him about the situation. I then figured it'd be easier to just walk by them and go about my business and just make it home. But no, I felt that it would be better to go and talk with the guys. So by God's grace I proceed to the statue.
I began talking with the guys, asking them simple questions regarding the statue, why they were standing there, and what they believe about the statue and the flag. Thankfully, they kindly answered. One gentleman, let's call him Jim, began telling me, from his point of view, about the war and Robert E. Lee's position in the war, and how it wasn't about slaves. He also felt that the media has an aim to bring division in our country amongst races of people. Meanwhile Jim is holding a sign that says "Jews will not replace us". There were other signs around that said things like "White Pride Worldwide" and "Heather Heaver was a false flag".
The conversation between Jim and I got deeper, as he began talking about Charlottesville, the signs he held, and Christianity. I asked him if he really felt like his signs weren't being divisive just like he says the media is. I also asked him and his friend, let's call his friend Bob, if they were Christians. They quickly responded with a yes. From there it got interesting (like the conversation prior to wasn't). I asked them "do you really think that God is cool with what you're doing?" They said yes! I'm not surprised by their answer though, as people many times take certain pieces of Christianity to suit their needs, their beliefs, or their rights. Anyway, I then began to talk with them about the Gospel, and how Christ made each of us in his image, and how there is value in being made in Christ. I also encouraged them to repent of their sins and to turn and put their trust in Christ. Meanwhile I didn't cut them out of that, but told them they are also made in his image.
Regardless of that they still stood on their "rights" and Jim even got to the point of saying that if he had to stand before God and answer for this, he is certain that he is doing God's will and that at the end of the day, he's willing to fight for white pride. Jim even got to the point of saying that he was willing to go to hell for his rights! He was very much about whites not being pushed to the side so other cultures and races could slide into America. During this time we had several cars drive up and take pictures. One white gentleman even stopped his car and began to curse Jim and Bob out and and tell them to get out of the area, and how he was an embarrassment to white people for being racist. I tried to break up the argument but it didn't matter. The gentleman eventually drives off and Jim and I continue the conversation.
A young lady proceeds to stand by me and ask questions herself, followed by another guy who took pictures and shot some video. Meanwhile Bob is standing and saying nothing the entire time, though there were grunts and moans that signified to me that he really didn't fully agree with what his friend Jim believed. It got to one point where I asked a deep question about refugees and immigrants, and when I asked if we should just try and help all immigrants or be selective on people, and if there was a crisis and we were selective between Jim and Bob and we saved Jim instead of Bob in this crisis, and forgot Bob, Jim said that would be fine, in which Bob grumbled. I encouraged Bob to be careful and think about his friend's response, as Jim then accused me of putting words in his mouth.
Fast forward to the quote above. As soon as Jim responded with being happily okay with killing off Jews, we were all astounded by his lack of empathy, and desire for hatred. We then talk for a little more, thanked each other for the conversation, and bounced. I even invited Bob to lunch one day, as he never talked the entire time and I would love to hear from his perspective and he didn't want to talk at that moment. Did I mention that Bob was Hispanic and the one wearing the "Make America Great Again" hat? No? Well, he was, and Jim defended him and even told me that he doesn't need to talk to me if he doesn't want to, which he's right. But it was almost as if Bob had no words of his own. Interesting.....
With all this being said, I thought about a few things:
1)I was glad to be able to talk with these two about their beliefs and where they stand. Even though this is hard, and knowing the depts of racism and hatred that these guys carried, it was still good to listen, and I respect them also taking the time to listen to me. Listening to understand Is good!
2) I hate that these guys had such a twisted view of Christianity. They took this view of Christianity, part of it being how they grew up probably, and mixed it with racism and white pride. But honestly, Each of us in our sin have taken Christianity and made it work for us. As I talked with Jim and Bob, I had to remind them and myself, that sin comes in different ways and that we have the tendency to take Christianity and make it our own, by changing the image of Christ to fit what we want, may it be in politics, race, loving money, sex, religion, or whatever. We want Christ in our image and not us in his, not the God of the scriptures, but our own version.
3) Yet the Gospel of Jesus Christ still stands. It doesn't matter what we try to make it into (not saying that we should make it into what we want though) Christ is God and he rules and reigns. These guys, and many others have been confused by what God says in his word in different ways. For them, it is taking Christ and saying that he's cool with racism and division. Yet as horrid as that is, Christ can save them. The Bible says that "his (Christ) hand is not shortened that it cannot save, nor his ear dull that it cannot hear." When I shared the gospel with them, I remember the pride I saw in Jim, yet the weird fear/timidity I saw in Bob. These two were easily in their early twenties, proudly standing on what they think is good, and one day they will meet Jesus and will not be able to stand before him in defense. I pray they would one day be able to bow in joy before Christ when he returns, and not in fear.
Let's pray for Jim and Bob, that they and others would come to know Christ and would repent of their sins. I pray for others that are like them. And I pray for myself, that I would never try and attach my own idea of what Christ needs to be. I never want my race, money, or anything else to supercede what Christ has made me to be and what his blood has accomplished. Yet when I do run to those sins, I want to repent, as he is quick to forgive and willing. We serve a good God. We need only keep looking forward to the reward, and pray that Jim and Bob would walk this with us. God is sovereign even over them.
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