By Allison Antram, Managing Editor
At the conclusion of Asbury’s 125th Reunion this summer, there were fireworks set off behind the Wilmore water tower. My fellow reunion ambassadors and I overheard a few elderly alumnae watching in awe, saying “after all that, the cross still stands,” and we smiled at their dramatic admiration.
For years, the cross on top of the water tower has been a beacon of identity for Wilmore, and even Asbury. As most of us know by now, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), based out of Wisconsin, has asked for it to be removed, saying that it is unlawful to display a religious symbol on public property.
This story is not a unique one, considering many other recent, religiously-related governmental disputes. And as I have watched them unfold, I have been troubled — not by the disputes themselves, but by Christian reactions.
For example, as the Supreme Court decided to legalize gay marriage, the country watched as Kim Davis, a county clerk, refused to sign all marriage licenses in protest. I watched her publicly televised release from prison and watched her, with arms in the air and tears in her eyes, declare victory for her faith as “The Eye of the Tiger” played in the background.
This is not about whether recent governmental decisions were right or wrong. And I by no means am suggesting that we should lay down our faith or rights at an altar of political correctness or legal obligation. But I do believe that we, as Christians, have been given an opportunity to be an example, in the form of a white cross on a water tower. And I do believe that we are responding poorly to that opportunity.
None of this should surprise us. We have been warned that, “do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you,” (1 John 3:13); yet, every time politics do not adhere to our morality, we seem shocked or angry. We post on Facebook, we argue, we protest, we get loud. We scoff at the President or the Supreme Court or whatever powers that be for not doing what we’d like. Every time there is an action taken in disagreement with our faith, we are quick to anger and quick to express it, and while I can relate to it, it’s getting us nowhere.
“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God” (Romans 13:1). Have we forgotten this? It’s difficult to swallow, for certain. We are not asked to agree and we are not asked to like it, but we are asked to respect our governing authorities. And it is this attitude that we are lacking; our respect of those in charge cannot hinge on their accordance with our beliefs.
As we see our country making decisions
that are increasingly distant from our values, we see Christians reacting increasingly loudly.
In that, also remember that unbelievers are not guided by the same convictions we are, and have no obligation to do so, and therefore, we are called to “let it be so… God has called us to live in peace” (1 Corinthians 7:15). Wilmore is a city, not a church. Separation of church and state is essential to our government. And America, while it was founded on Christian principles, has no official religion. What does living in peace with that look like?
While we are citizens of the United States, we are called sons and daughters of a far higher Kingdom, and that is ultimately where our loyalties and hope should lie. And as Christians, it is our mission to love — even those who don’t believe the same things, even those who pass the wrong laws, and even those who are trying to remove the cross from our water tower. Do our angry rants and bitter resentment look like that kind of love? What if we put that energy into loving those who oppose us within Wilmore, or better yet, into loving the FFRF like Jesus would?
So in Wilmore’s brief moment in the spotlight, I encourage us to stand ever-stronger in our faith — boldly and respectfully. And therefore, let us resemble Christ in our reactions and our responses. More than anything, let us remember where our faith really lies — because if it’s in anything worldly (presidential candidates, Supreme Court decisions and water tower crosses included), we need to reevaluate. And through it all, what the cross represents will still stand.