The news coverage was fairly descriptive. Two sides stood opposed to each other in Columbia, South Carolina, just outside the Capital Building. On one side stood those in favor of removing the confederate flag; on the other side stood the KKK. The news coverage proceeded to discuss the small showing on the part of the KKK, its declining membership over the years, and the disjointed nature of its current organization. For one, I am thankful the KKK has declined in membership over the years. In my opinion, it would be wonderful if it dissolved entirely.
Yet, it made me think about its origins and implications for believers today. Sadly, the Klan legitimized their beliefs from the Bible. In the 1920s the Klan intentionally wedded their mission to Biblical principles in order to stimulate recruitment. At the time 2/3 of their speakers were Protestant ministers. To this day, there is still an underlying Biblical motivation for their cause. For the record, I think the attempt to connect their views to a Christian belief system is reckless, absurd, and offensive. This dynamic caused me reflect on some implications for us.
First, God is used to defend a variety of misguided views. People can twist the Bible to say pretty much whatever they want. This is the case with the KKK. They appeal to a divine document in order to further their cause. Yet, the issue is not one of conviction but manipulation. Rather than honestly surrendering to the truths of Scripture, it is twisted for an agenda. While I would not put us in the same camp as the KKK, I think we need to be reminded that we oftentimes use Scripture to drive our desires. We use Biblical truth to rationalize our opinions, behavior, and choices, sometimes not because the Bible clearly states it but rather because we want it to. I have heard cases where Scripture is used to rationalize porn-viewing in order to enrich a marriage, judgment towards others based on moral superiority, and materialism as a sign of God’s blessings. For us, I think we need to be very willing to humbly submit to Biblical truth, allowing it to authoritatively speak into our lives rather than as a document to justify behavior.
Second, it is not simply about beliefs but character. Apart from the KKK’s distorted views, the character is clearly out-of-whack with the life of Christ. Even if a person agreed with their beliefs, they should dismiss it because their character is one of hatred. Therefore, they undermine their own beliefs by their racism. Scripture powerfully affirms that our beliefs are given credibility by our actions. True belief is displayed by true character. Oh, there is such a temptation for us as believers to have two sets of books: there are our beliefs and there are our actions. And oftentimes they don’t complement one another. This is why many people have a problem with the church. We say one thing and we do something else. I am guilty of this at times. I find myself affirming forgiveness only to discover I am also hanging onto resentment in some corner of my life. In those cases, my character is disconnected from my beliefs. So, I am reminded by the KKK that character must always radiate from my beliefs not be separate from it.
Lastly, we need to shine sometimes to compensate for those that give Christ a bad name. I am the first to say that it annoys me when someone poorly reflects on our Lord. We should strive to be a light to the world – we are ambassadors for Him. Yet, sometimes, it is easy to hide our faith because we don’t want to be attached to those that negatively define us. I think the solution is the opposite. We need to graciously shine all the more so that people see and know the real deal. There have always been people who have done unflattering things in the name of Christ and there always will be. I can’t control them. I can only control myself and the life I live for Christ.