It’s our time: Responding to Richard Spencer

Richard Spencer is coming to town and Gainesville is nervous.

Every time I hear the story of our nation’s racial past I struggle with understanding how so many people could stand by and do so little. Until I watch how deeply we struggle acknowledging our racial present. We have a problem, and it won’t evaporate with the passage of time.

So how do we respond to Richard Spencer and the fear-fueled hatred of the alt-right?

We are not calling you to complacency, inaction, or silence. We must resist hate and white supremacy in all its forms. We are just calling you to resist in ways that will demonstrate true power.

Use our heads.

First, don’t show up and physically protest. To do that you are walking into a trap that has been set for you. You are an extra in a play where Richard Spencer is the playwright. You are on his turf. He’s set this stage on many university campuses across the nation. Violence and even death have been his applause. You don’t have show up to the set. You don’t have to take cues from Spencer and company.

Think about it. If a handful of people show up to his gathering, its impact is quelled right then and there. The press would expose that type of hate for the powerless movement it is without real clout or sway.

If 3,000 protestors show up and violence erupts, hate is the ultimate victor and Spencer gets exactly what he wants: national/international coverage, a bolstering of confidence for his white supremacy base, and the impregnating of thousands of counter-protestors with hate.

Don’t fight hate with hate. Don’t give hate the momentum of a home turf contest. Don’t stoke the flame by walking directly into the publicity trap.

Resist this. Fight it. Do not give in.

Let me clear. Doing nothing is not an option. Saying nothing is not an option. But let’s do the right thing. And let’s say the right thing.

Pray.

Acts 12 tells the story of the apostle Peter being imprisoned by King Herod and surrounded by squads of guards in preparation for his public execution after Passover, “but the church spent the night earnestly praying to God for him.” Acts 12:5. How did this story end? An angel of the Lord arrived at the prison and set Peter free.

Who held the most power in this story? King Herod? The prison guards? No. The church in constant prayer.

Don’t roll your eyes too quickly. Prayer is not the only thing we do, but it better be one of the first things we do. Otherwise everything else we do is impotent.

Pray for God’s protection over our city, it’s leadership, and our law enforcement. They are laying their lives on the line right now. Pray for the kingdom of God to come in Gainesville as it is in heaven. Pray for the safety of the citizens in our city and our uninvited visitors.

We are called to pray for our enemies. You and I both know that Richard Spencer is a hurting, broken and fearful person who has placed his hope in sin. We know it because we were once hurting, broken, fearful people who looked for life in sin. But with the grace of Jesus there is hope and power and freedom. We are now free to resist hate, even unto death. We know the King! Pray and intercede for the salvation of Richard Spencer and his followers.

Pray for the Church. This is our chance to talk about race and injustice. This is our chance to get right what the church got wrong during the days of slavery, Jim Crow, and the civil rights movement. This is our chance to come into agreement. This is our chance to forsake all of the unbiblical, colonialized versions of Christianity and return to the world-changing, counter-cultural masterpiece we read about in Scripture. I don’t want conservative Jesus. Or liberal Jesus. I want the real Jesus. But it takes humility to see Him.

Fast.

This is why believers from multiple churches all over our city are choosing a day to fast and pray this week. Ask the Lord to search our hearts for the ways in which these ills of racism and hate remain in us. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is true. If God’s people humble themselves and repent He will heal our land. Let’s be honest, our land is not healed.

Imagine what would happen if Christians did what nobody else in our culture does: humbled ourselves.

It would be a sign.

Protest.

The absolute best resistance is to counter-protest far away from where Spencer wants us to be. Where we engage not with him, but the white supremacy that he stands for through a unified front in ways that will not feed into his publicity stunt. Without physical protest, he loses and his voice is silenced.

Earlier this week we recorded a panel discussion trying to wrestle with the insidious nature of hate. Of racism and how it divides us. But also true reconciliation and what are some of the steps needed for moving forward. These issues of tribalism and racism are common to man. It has destroyed many nations and kingdoms before us. Law enforcement has asked us not to hold any large gatherings in any form of counter protest as this will lead to a significant security risk. Security for Spencer’s event is already costing our government and the University of Florida over $500K.

Instead of one gathering we are asking you to imitate the early church. Meet house to house with your microchurch, with friends, with neighbors all throughout the week and watch this video together. Talk about it. I strongly urge you to gather with people of other racial backgrounds and listen to them. Hear them out. Be slow to speak. Become meek enough to inherit the earth.

Boast!

Yes, things are tense. We acknowledge the clear and present danger. But something happened by 6:00 on Good Friday. The same Cross that tore down the wall of separation between God and humanity has the power to tear down the walls of fear and hatred and division. No more boasting in race; no more boasting in nationality. I agree with Paul: As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Galatians 6:14)

 

14 Replies to “It’s our time: Responding to Richard Spencer”

  1. My name is Rosie from Sarasota. My daughter is also part of Greenhouse worship team. I am thrilled (once again) by the power of your words. Christ is written all over them.
    I though that they needed to be spread out so I call the JoyFM this morning during a discussion about the person trying to spread hate in the country. There it it…. you blog is going viral!

    https://florida.thejoyfm.com/morning-cruise/home/2017/10/19/a-response-to-richard-spencer-at-university-of-florida/

  2. Mike, I see clearly your intentions and heart are in the right place writing something like this. And you have valid points in the need for a responsible and careful response to the upcoming event as well as an increase in dialogue and empathy within your congregation. But I think you also do something dangerous here. Today it is more prevalent than ever that just having “thoughts and prayers” is glorified apathy.

    We see it on social media, we see it in our friends, family, and neighbors.

    Consistent and voiced action are the catalysts and engine behind actual change and it needs to come from many groups, but just as well a group that has been falsely satisfied in their morality as a citizen, neighbor, and Christian through private words to God and fasting.

    Yes. Pray. But then be present and show up for your fellow men and women.

  3. Courtney: Good words. You are right. There is history to learn (not gloss over), a story to tell (not whitewash), and courage needed to change the story. But you are correct, the story needs to be changed, and we are the people to do it.

  4. Brilliant article. I respect it, but have a few challenges with it.

    In this post, you say that we “struggle to understand our racial present”. Speak for yourself. I, we, black folks, African-Americans understand and have been faced with the harsh realities of hatred for a very long time. I have gone to protests, held signs and been threatened to be pepper sprayed at marches. My parents drank out of ‘colored only’ water fountains as children, right here in beautiful Gainesville, Florida. Grandmother scrubbed floors on her hands and knees as a child for a few cents a day to afford food for her 9 siblings. We have a huge problem, and it began long before Richard Spencer ever thought about visiting Gainesville.

    It’s is interesting to see so many people come up with “strategies” on how to deal with Richard Spencer coming to Gainesville, but what about the Richard Spencers in our community? There are MANY Richard Spencers on the local police force, school board, courtrooms, classrooms, churches (yep) and financial institutions?

    Those that are “non black” want to properly respond to Richard Spencer? Openly call out every Richard Spencer you encounter in your daily life. Openly denounce rebuke and correct hate speech and those that are silent concerning the mistreatment of persons of color.
    Personally, I have faith that God will take care of us all. Love is greater than death AND hate. I also know that faith without work, is dead. Let us both pray AND work daily to smother out hatred.

  5. Not saying I agree with everything he says, but… Why can’t you just let an American have their free speech? It’s his constitutional right.

  6. Where do we find the video mentioned in this post?

    This was very well written, may many people be moved to action and humitlity.

  7. I agree that prayer comes first . However i feel we are also called to action I agree not at the site he wants us to be —that is a great point ! But protest has to be seen . In Europe there were myriads of daily prayer for the prevention of WW2 We saw how quickly evil can rise up under the guise of problem solving –sadly we see this now in our political arena . Once it has taken hold it is very difficult for the good to rise up and crush –many Germans lost their lives try to kill Hitler. How to protest with out giving extra publicity to the white supremacists is the problem —-grateful for your ideas

  8. Great word !
    Ephesians 6:12 – “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places”
    Agree, it’s time to Fast & Pray
    Thankyou for sharing

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