I can't speak for everyone, but I can and will share some suggestions in this painful time. I believe there are things Christians can and must do to respond to the Charlottesville events, and so many other, hate-filled days.
First, we must pray. Pray for all the families. And pray for those people who we call our enemies (Ephesians 6:10-12). That's a uniquely Christian thing to do, to pray for all, including our enemies. It's not easy, but it is our calling.
Second, love the hurting. Though most of us are not in Charlottesville, we know that Christians are there, along with others, loving those who have suffered. And, even from where we sit, we can love the protesters and counter protesters and "weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
Third, love our enemies. Again, that is what makes our faith unique. Most of us are watching this unfold from outside of Virginia, but this is an attack on all of humanity. When we let that sink in, love isn’t our first natural feeling. But love is what we are called to do.
You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy”. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43-45)
Sometimes it’s not enough to just give lip service to what we should be doing. We also must commit to what we should be resisting. And on a night like this, there are at least three things we should NOT do as Christians.
First, we should not hate. That’s what our human nature wants to do. We feel pain. We feel anger. And some of us may even worry about people we know who live in Charlottesville. All these emotions can lead our souls to some troubling places. But the truth is, Christians are people who live with a hope and who live with a mission. We cannot hate people and expect to evangelize at the same time. As we pray, we must pray for our own hearts to be protected from hate.
Second, we should not take out anger on those who might disagree with us. The white & black supremacists, they are not the enemy. Almost all of these people are just trying to, in their own way, live and protect their families If we start placing blame, and drawing quick conclusions, then we are saying that innocent people should be denied protection. This is not okay. The gospel frees us to first, and always, be people of compassion (Ephesians 4:29-32).
Third, we should not call for a war against people with different ideals. I believe that ALL people need Jesus, including those in the KKK, Black Panthers, atheists, etc. That's part of what makes us Christian. I want to see white & black supremacists and all other single minded come to Christ (yes, as they want to win me to their ideals). And, we can't do that by going to war with everyone who thinks differently. (Galatians 5:13-14).
Where to go from here?
These are complex issues, I'm simply addressing what I and other Christians can and should do today. When we return evil with good, we follow the example of Christ (1 Peter 2:20-23). Our 'enemies' will be taken off guard, even stunned. They expect, and probably want, an angry response. Our anger would be natural, and would confirm their sense of control. But a gentle response would be unnatural, even incomprehensible.
Jesus offers no guarantee that a humble response will soften a hardened heart. Although our 'enemy' might be puzzled, a truly evil person may be angered further. He might renew his attacks, bringing stronger attacks. But there is also a chance that they may be disarmed, intrigued, and drawn to faith. It’s no wonder that the apostle Paul stressed to Christians:
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head” (Romans 12:16-20).
Times like these are filled with emotion, and that is normal. But let's make sure that our response is more tempered by the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) than online grandstanding and prideful rhetoric. Don’t get caught up in debates and anger. This is a horrible moment, but God's story is bigger than this and it ends in hope.