A call to repentance?

This is the time of year when many Christians are focused on repentance.  The liturgical season of Lent is observed by Catholics, Orthodox, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists and even some evangelicals.  Lent is an ancient church observance and relatively widely practiced.  One would think in a mixed group of Christians it would be acknowledged at least somewhat.

The day after Ash Wednesday, the traditional start of Lent, I attended an event for Christian homeschoolers.  The leader’s introduction speech was a bit… disappointing.

In the opening remarks, the leader started talking about how broken our world is and how troubled people are, how hurting and confused, and invoked “the recent celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day” as a day of “repentance and unity.”  She proceeded to quote MLK about “hate cannot drive out hate” and “only love can drive out hate.”  After going on like this for some time (and none of this had anything to do with the reason this group was meeting in the first place!), she tacked onto the end mentions of God and His love being the only solution to the world’s problems.

MLK Jr. Day had been past by about a month.  Ash Wednesday was just the day before.  It was a stretch to be turning the introduction into a speech about racial justice (without actually coming out and mentioning “racial justice”).  It was a little more understandable that she also talked a great deal about Valentine’s Day and LOVE considering that holiday had shared a date with Ash Wednesday this year.

I have heard this woman speak several times before and knew that when given a platform, she has a tendency to talk too long about her own interpretations of Scripture and throw in vague references to current events with mushy Christian sentiments that could be interpreted in various ways.  I’ve often suspected that these references were leaning liberal but they weren’t explicit enough to pin down for sure — not explicit enough for other attendees at these events, whom I know to have much stronger “conservative” leanings, to be upset with her.

Probably she belongs to a denomination that does not observe Lent, but speaking to a Christian group and talking far more about MLK than God or Scripture is odd.  And calling MLK Day a “day of repentance” really gives her away..

My tolerance for this sort of thing has greatly diminished in the past few years.  The sad thing is that in a way what she said is true — depending on how you interpret it.  We are called to repentance for how we might have wronged others and to reconciliation with our fellow man.  But she left out the most important call to repentance and reconciliation: to God.  Also important is the need to focus on one’s personal failings and responsibility, things one could actually work to make amends for and to change, not some real or imagined wrongs committed by one’s ancestors or race in the distant past or even present.  Nothing that MLK Day is about has anything to do with ME personally.  I have never personally wronged any person of color.

I resent this sort of “Christian” manipulation: Well, don’t you want to love as God tells you to?  Ok, now feel bad about “racial inequality.”  And DO something about it.  Yeah?  Like what exactly?  As far as I can tell, these sorts of little speeches serve no purpose other than to induce “white guilt” and make us “understand.”  How this helps anybody I really can’t see.

I really don’t want to hate anyone.  If others would just leave my people alone and not try to destroy the country/world for my children’s future.  And if they didn’t hate me first, that would really help.

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