“When the thousand years [of Christ’s reign] are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations…” – Revelation 20:7-8a
Fifty-five years ago today transpired what, depending on your point of view, was either a heroic stand against the forces of social decay, or an appalling attempt to block the forces of progress. On June 11, 1963, George Wallace, then-Governor of Alabama, took his famous “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” at an auditorium at the University of Alabama. Almost ten years before, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board had declared it unconstitutional to segregate public schools according to race. When, after much struggle and almost a decade, three black students were finally admitted to the University of Alabama, Wallace decided to block them from entering to finish their registration. So there he stood, a bulwark of…something…in his own mind. Plenty of people supported him. Plenty did not.
History has passed a righteous judgement on Wallace. But if you can’t wait for history to decide, how do you figure out how to act? When change is roiling the nation, when mores and morals and standards and norms shift, when we seem to be split right down the middle, when ugly truths about ourselves are getting harder and harder to deny, how do you decide where God wants you to make your stand? Even if you call yourself a follower of Jesus, how do you really know if you’ve been listening to the Deceiver or the Savior?
Jesus got asked this same question once, in different words. “What is the greatest commandment?” they asked him, and you know he said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.” “Ok, but who’s my neighbor?” you might ask, as they did. And if the one you’ve been following answers anything other than, “Every-damn-body,” it just simply isn’t Jesus.
God, give me power to find your will and your longing in every situation. Then when the time comes, let me take my stand, and let it be a stand for love. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.