A few weeks ago, I had to apologize to someone in my church. This wasn’t an insignificant apology, like, “I’m sorry I forgot our appointment.” This was an issue when I deeply wounded someone in the body of Christ.
A whole bunch of thoughts were going through my head, as I walked into this mediated apology session:
- Through my pride, I hurt someone who God cares about deeply.
- I didn’t deserve forgiveness, but I needed to ask for it.
- I sinned against this person, against others who were involved, and against God (Psalm 51:4)
- God values peace, and I needed to do everything I could to make that happen.
But one thing I wasn’t thinking: I never thought that I could walk into this meeting and demand forgiveness. I wanted reconciliation, but I would have understood if this person wasn’t ready to give it to me. (Thankfully, they were a lot more gracious that I would have been, and I was forgiven immediately.)
Even though God commands us to forgive each other, just as we have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32), I couldn’t insist on being forgiven. Forgiving is a choice of one who has been offended.
The Question at Hand
I am writing this blog post to my brothers and sisters in Christ, especially my white southern friends. Other people are invited to read this post, but I don’t think you’ll fully grasp where we are coming from. (Truth be told, I don’t fully understand these complex issues, but I’m working on it.)
Shortly after a recent racism-motivated massacre in Charleston, SC, many people were calling (once again) for the removal of the Confederate flag from the State House grounds in Columbia. Others said that people were using this tragedy for political reasons, and it was not the right time to bring this issue up. (But exactly when is a good time to discuss this? It’s been an issue for at least 20 years. Thankfully, Governor Nikki Haley has bravely called on the SC Legislature to remove the flag from the Capitol grounds.)
So, this is the issue: Should Christians support the removal of the Confederate Flag from our State House grounds? And if we want to take it further, we can ask: Should Christians freely display this flag?