What a terrible scene we are all witnessing in Baltimore, Maryland.
People are going to offer political solutions to it. People are going to offer partisan solutions. Campaign 2016 is upon us and Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland and mayor of Baltimore, is a contender. What is happening in Baltimore could potentially be just another useful tool in a partisan cog for a political machine somewhere. Regardless, checks will be written. Large sums of money will be paid. And the fact of the matter is that nothing will really improve. People will talk about improving things. Some people will even try to improve things. But I don’t think things will really, actually improve much.
There are partisan points and there are political points. But ultimately this is an issue of culture. Culture is an issue politics does not shape. Culture, instead, shapes politics. Culture flows downstream and, like a river, carves and erodes. Our culture continues to erode things and we now have politicians and activists who surf the rapids of that cultural river as it courses through politics and they seek to make names for themselves over the eroded society.
Further downstream we are just left with mud and silt. That mud and silt can be fertile ground for seeds. And there is one seed that can be planted that no storm or flood or drought or fire can uproot or destroy. That seed’s name is Jesus. And his blood is the only thing that can save Baltimore from itself and us from ourselves.
Politicians will come and go and profit and lose. The church should make the many Baltimores of this world its mission field. Churches should consider instead of the beach trips to work on tans and hammer nails that they might need some inner-city trips too.
When we reach the point of death and destruction and riots in our streets, we have moved beyond the political. No political salve can ever fully calm or heal. Politicians will talk and promise and blame, but they fall short. They, like you and I, are sinners. Baltimore needs more than another bunch of sinners talking promises.
Everyone trots out Martin Luther King Jr. at times like this. I maintain that one of this greatest and least noticed speeches was his “Street Sweeper” speech. In it he talked about the three dimensions of a complete life.
“Go out this morning. Love yourself, and that means rational and healthy self-interest. You are commanded to do that. That’s the length of life. Then follow that: Love your neighbor as you love yourself. You are commanded to do that. That’s the breadth of life. And I’m going to take my seat now by letting you know that there’s a first and even greater commandment: “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength.” I think the psychologist would just say with all thy personality. And when you do that, you’ve got the breadth of life....
“When you get all the three of these together, the lamb will lie down with the lion.
“When you get all three of these working together, you will do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.
“When you get all three of these together, you will recognize that out of one blood God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth.”
Culture is upstream from politics and in our culture, we need those three dimensions for a complete life and a calm culture.
Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.