• Jesse Smith

Earthquakes

It is undeniable that we are living through a pivotal moment in American history. These times of change and disruption do not happen every year or even every generation. I believe -- and have been told -- that these moments are similar to earthquakes.


At 10:54 am on Wednesday, February 28, 2001, I was working in my office in Alpha Battery 1/37th Field Artillery in Fort Lewis, Washington, when the cages around me, containing supplies, began to shake violently and uncontrollably. The concrete slab flooring beneath my feet, which had always been certain and unmovable was now reverberating like small waves in the ocean. I did not have a compartment in my mind to make sense of the situation. And when the dust settled, we soon learned that we had experienced a 6.8 magnitude earthquake.

An earthquake respects structures that are built well. Everything else is reduced to rubble.


I believe that now is the time for the church to make an inventory of the shaky things we have propped up that are not solid and true, and to renovate structures that are not in agreement with the good news of Jesus Christ that we proclaim.


Paul, who was a builder by trade, uses a similar analogy when he talks about times of testing. He writes in 1 Corinthians 3:9-13,


You are God’s building.


Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.


Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.


We are God’s building. Our foundation in Christ is solid. And there are also buildings, symbols, and structures in this nation, that were erected long ago, whose foundations are greed and exploitation of people of color. And year by year, centimeter by centimeter, the tectonic plates of equality and justice for all have been shifting beneath our feet.


And the earthquake is here. Confederate statues and flags are rightly being removed; bridges bearing the names of Klansmen are rightly being renamed. Even monuments we have erected in our minds are shaking and crumbling during this time. Everything that has been built and enshrined does not have the same value. Everything is not built to last.


And I am hopeful that the body of Christ will see this pivotal moment as a time to build solid structures that our children will not have to dismantle. I pray that we will hear the voices of those that have been oppressed and subjugated and that we will take decisive action to rebuild. I do not know the projected cost of a project this size but I am willing to invest my life and resources in seeing it become a reality.


“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

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