We Will Not Be Afraid to Live in the Spirit of Jesus!

As a nation and as individuals, we are reeling from the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend—hatred, racism, violence and death. As citizens and as Christians, we are wondering how we are to respond to this unmasking of evil. How do we speak, act, and live as people of faith when the powers of darkness reveal themselves with such clarifying terror?

The events in Charlottesville resurrected for me the thoughts, feelings, and fears that erupted in me following the murder of worshipers at Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston on 17 June 2015. Many people saw that event through the lens of gun violence. I clearly saw the long-denied evil of racism in South Carolina that I had naively hoped had left the stage after the civil rights movement. I knew, for I am a native of South Carolina, that this evil had simply gone underground to be hidden in the hearts and minds of those who refused to relinquish the myth of Anglo-Saxon superiority.

As the events unfolded on Saturday, the youthful faces among the KKK and Neo-Nazi groups disturbed me. These young faces, almost exclusively male, bore a resolve inspired by a lie masquerading as truth—the lie of white supremacy. In their faces, I saw an aspiring white supremacist who stormed into my office months ago. He was young—barely into his 30s. He was angry. He could not conceal his hatred for women, African Americans, and immigrants. His anger and hatred were stoked by Neo-Nazi and white supremacist web-sites and propaganda. His perceived wounds were grievous inflicted by those whom he hated. He was an intelligent young man. He was from a Christian family, but now he despised the Church and anyone, like me, who represented Christianity. When I challenged him, he became more agitated. Did I mention he was a young, white male? I pray he was not in Charlottesville on Saturday.

Honestly, at this time, I do know how to respond wisely to these realities of evil and hatred revealed so powerfully in Charleston and Charlottesville. I pray, but not a prayer of despair. In the presence of God, I choose to be still, remembering that He is God, and I pray for courage in the face of evil. Thus, on this past Sunday, this prayer called us to worship—

God, our heavenly Father and Father of all the peoples of the earth, we enter this sanctuary this morning seeking refuge and a place of peace in a time when our world appears to be convulsing with distrust, fear, and hatred.

We come here, to be still, and to remember, that despite the turmoil in our world, you are God. Knowing that you are God, we will not surrender to our fears. We will not relinquish our hope. We will not despair in the face of hatred and evil. We will not abandon the ways of peace. We will not demonize those who seek to be our enemies. We will speak courageously of loving everyone, for every person bears your image. We will pray for those who are bitter and angry. We will do good to those who are tempted to violence. We will resist evil with goodness. We will turn the other cheek and seek understanding.

Father, we will do these things—for we have witnessed our failures to shape a more moral, equal, just, and peaceful world when we have relied on our own knowledge, wisdom, and passion. Father, we will seek to live as Jesus taught us so that, in a world convulsing in pain, we may be salt, leaven, and light. We choose to rely not on our strength and our ways, but upon your power revealed in love. We set our hearts on your Shalom. Amen. In these perilous times, let us live by faith. Let us refuse to be afraid. Let us live faithfully and courageously in the spirit of Jesus until we discern what to do! Peace.


Jamie Broome

Jamie Broome began serving Immanuel in 1993. He previously served First Baptist Church in Midway, Kentucky for ten years. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Carson Newman University, where he met his wife, Rita, and his Master of Divinity from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, where he also did a Th.M. and doctoral work in church history. He is a native of South Carolina, and the Broomes have two sons, Chip and Rusty.