Summary: This message challenges us to examine if there are gaps between what we say and what we do.
3 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5; NRSV)
41 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. (Luke 6:41-42; NRSV)
During the past year, we have seen increased tensions in the urban segments of our cities. The mistrust and animus between citizens and law enforcement officers has called the church into taking the lead in seeking healing in these communities. As a part of seeking solutions, many of the leaders of the faith community are reaching out to both sides to offer words that will foster better relations and that challenge the parties to engage in self-examination.
The leaders of the faith communities have tough jobs. The separation of ‘Church and State’ establishes guard rails that prevent one entity from having authority over the other. At best, the leaders of the faith communities can only stand in the gap as advisers.
In observing the leaders of the faith community crying out for justice and peace, I noted an interesting disparity. Some-to-many of the leaders who advocate for greater participation of the citizens in the municipal, state and federal power structures, were a part of traditional polities that did not function as democracies. Some-to-many of those who chastened the citizenry for not voting in recent elections did not have church policies where the congregants shared power with the leaders. Going back to the days of the civil rights marches, those who advocated for the worthiness of all citizens often had hierarchical, pastor-led decision making processes. These structures may have been based on the scriptures, traditions, and the fact that ministers were traditionally the most educated people in the urban community.
The danger of this disparity was that the people in the pews were caught in a vise between the pulpit and the governing authorities in society. People whose cries were silenced by the Pharaoh were also silenced by the local Moses. People who were disenfranchised from the prevailing power structures were also disenfranchised from creating policies to guide the pastor and the people. The only time when democracy was observed was either on April 15th or the Offertory prayer. The consequence is that if people remain unheard in City Hall, the State House, the White House and the Sanctuary, then the streets become the place where the unheard can be heard through their actions. If people's voices and intellects are silenced in the houses of worship and in the public square, then that is a sociological aneurysm waiting to rupture.