Does Love Burn in Baltimore, Too?

When my son was a child, he delighted in watching me build up block towers so he could knock them down. In that simple game was an important lesson: Destruction is child’s play. To build takes maturity and skill.

It is easier to tear down than it is to build up. This is true of rioters who tear down a city and true of the spectators who, the next day, tear them down on social media.

It’s easy to say that rioting and looting is bad. No kidding.

The challenge is building up. How do we build up a city? How do we build up a people under duress? How do we create a constructive dialog that will encourage the people of Baltimore? The work of the church is to further, to build, the kingdom of God – what does that look like as we respond to Baltimore with the heart, the eyes, and the mind of Christ?

The power is in the building up not the tearing down.

Step one is, like the mother trying to stop her son from rioting, we look to our own houses. What words will I choose to speak about what’s happening? What comes out of my mouth in response to the riots in Baltimore and what do those words say about the condition of my heart?

Will I condemn those who riot and let others call them animals in my presence or will I remind myself and others that the rioters are also made in God’s image? Do I see the rioters as somehow different that I? What do I think makes that difference?

What if that was my son or daughter in those news shots? What if those were my children on the streets? How, then, would I want the world to respond? Certainly, I could understand condemning their actions but wouldn’t I pray there were people willing to see the person I love standing there? Know the pain of my heart as a parent or a grandparent or a pastor or a loving neighbor?

Will I speak words of condemnation igniting more fires on Facebook and Twitter or will I seek to listen to the people who live in Baltimore, the Christians there who are seeking solutions, and ask how can I pray, how I can I support, how can I represent Christ beside you.

Am I brave enough to ask, not only what these riots say about Baltimore but what they say about the salt and light of the church in Baltimore and other cities around America? My city? My town?

Do I love the people of Baltimore enough to interrupt my schedule today to intercede for them?

And what of the young people around me? Have I lived in a way that they turn to me to ask for guidance in understanding Baltimore? Do the young adults in my world feel they can come to the church to ask questions and to seek answers? Or are they turning to the alter of social media for their counsel? When they do, will they find any voice from believers others than the voice of condemnation?

And what about justice? What does justice look like in Baltimore? We’re sure we know what it doesn’t look like – again, that’s the easy part. What does it look like for justice to live on those city streets? For reconciliation to happen in the ashes? For all of us to say what can I do where I live to build up and not tear down.

If you are a believer in Baltimore, please comment here, please reach out and let us know how you’d like the rest of us to respond to the crisis in your streets. If you live in other places where there is unrest, educate us, please, in how to serve you. If that is one of your children rioting, know that you are loved and that there are people who see beyond the angry faces to know there is more to every story. Let us know how to pray for you, love you, serve you through this time.

The anger of humans does not produce the righteousness of God – not anger on the streets nor anger on the airwaves. So, we need to move past the anger to a place where love and mercy rule. Love is stronger than death – even on the streets of Baltimore – and we who believe this need to live and speak as if we know it’s true.

Neither do we need a bunch of Chicken Little Christians taking this moment to fill the airwaves with cries that the sky is falling and that Baltimore is just a sign of how bad everyone is. Yes, the world needs Jesus. Yes, we need to watch the signs of the times. But how do we use this moment to speak light into a dark situation? How do we build up as others tear down around us?

The question isn’t why do fires burn in Baltimore – the important question is does love burn in Baltimore, too?

My heart has been unsettled by the love of Christ. Curious about that? Check out My Heart.

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    The Conversation

  1. My heart has been breaking for everyone involved. Let us seek the face of God, examine ourselves and show the love of Jesus. let us call on the name of the Lord 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Lori Thank you for speaking the truth.

  2. Lori,
    I saw your Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers blog. Your tag line drew me. Tolkein’s hobbits resonate with me in many ways. Thank your for your thoughtful insights on the Baltimore riots.