The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (John 1:5)

Many of our American Jesus Collective sisters and brothers – and those of us who love them as family – have watched the chaos and disruption brought about by this week’s events with sadness and breaking hearts. We are standing with and praying for you, friends.

Whatever our nationality or political views, we can all agree that these are moments to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus as citizens of his Kingdom. And we have an important opportunity to share and model how placing Jesus at the center shines light in the darkness and makes a radical, life-changing difference in the way we navigate the tumult and disciple our communities.

Part of Jesus Collective’s vision is to amplify the voice of this Jesus-centered movement – the loud yet quiet” voice of Jesus. And that starts with listening. This week, we invited some of our American Partners and friends to share briefly what it means to them to place Jesus at the center in such polarizing times. Their responses are deeply personal, honest, and inspiring.

We invite you to read through this collage of contributions and share with others who may find it encouraging. 

Let’s be light in the darkness, friends.

Matt Miles
Executive Director, Jesus Collective


Let us always remember that in a world that is not as it should be, we are called to do justice as God does justice, to love as Jesus loves, and to walk by the Spirit in peace with God and each other. We do God’s justice by making things right. We love how Christ has loved by taking up our cross and laying down our lives for one another. We are to be Christ’s peacemakers who together with the Spirit bring reconciliation and healing. On earth as it is in heaven is the work. Praise God for Jesus. Praise God for the Spirit. And praise God for we the Church. Sisters and brothers … breathe and let the Spirit breathe within you, hydrate and feel the flow of life God gifts you, pray and look to Jesus. There is still much work left for us to do.

Hank Johnson, Pastor, Harrisburg, PA

My heart is full of sorrow. The events in our country this week have further exposed just how undervalued so many of us are. We saw firsthand the tolerance that is readily available to certain people groups. To be reminded of this, again, is truly hard to bear with any semblance of grace. For me, putting Jesus at the center is my only option during this time. My focus cannot be on anything else. It is by looking intently for Him that I am given any hope for comfort. The storm is raging all around, and my only lifeline is to see Him in the eye of the storm alongside me where I can lean into His truth, His love, His peace, and I can know that I belong to Him. In the midst of all of the pain and the chaos, I am clinging to His call to come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Shawna Boren, Pastor, St. Paul, MN

The apostle Peter tells us that Christians are sojourners and exiles. We live in this world as representatives of another. Times like these can be special moments when the beauty of God’s Kingdom may be seen more vividly against such an ugly backdrop. Now is the time for Jesus’ followers to act as peacemakers, to show love to enemies, and to be servants of all. It’s in these ways that we distinguish ourselves and bring glory to the Father we worship.

Rick Shafer, Pastor, Wilmington, NC

Putting Jesus at the center means we can SEE. Jesus often opened the eyes of the blind and called everyone to spiritual sight. What we have been seeing at the U.S. Capitol is evidence of white privilege that was created and protected by this nation since its inception. Some people don’t want to let it go, but it’s time for change! Seeing with Jesus who moves from death to life means that we can change. We pray for an end to racialized violence and for leadership that sees the full and beloved humanity of every person.

Rachel Sensenig, Pastor, Philadelphia, PA

America, which not too long ago was viewed by many to be a beacon of hope that modelled freedom to the world, now finds its democratic ideals under attack as we flirt with the possibility of a civil war.

As unfortunate and as dark as America’s current crisis is, it is the perfect situation for Kingdom citizens to display the love, joy, and peace that comes from knowing the one true King whose eternal reign can never be contested, whose Kingdom shall never be overthrown, and who alone is the true hope of the world. 

Greg Boyd, Pastor and Author, St. Paul, MN

Putting Jesus at the center in the chaos, disorientation, and heartbreak of this polarizing moment means I never have to suffer disillusionment in my Leader when moments of crisis arise.

It means I don’t have to wonder if I’m gonna be okay at the end” of this – or even if conditions continue to decline around me. 

It means I long for Jesus’ Kingdom to come with a bit more desperation than I had last week. 

It means I carry immense gratitude for no squandered hope poured into a political party and instead am confirmed in my hope lying with Jesus’ third way. 

It means I’m thirstier with every passing year to understand the way of Jesus.

It means I renew my belief in the futility of violence as an answer and find myself re-drawn into love as the solution. 

It means I wrestle anew with the challenge to learn to love those who are causing harm. 

It means I’m drawn into prayer on behalf of my world with more intensity today. 

It means I double back down on my call to be a Light. 

It means I press into Divinely-inspired self-care so I have margin to pick my cross back up today and love again.

Angela Lam, Pastor, Petaluma, CA

The opportunity for true revival in the U.S. is now, especially for white Christians. The insurrection at the Capitol was the outcome of generational indifference to the pain of our marginalized neighbors (choosing instead to focus on the perceived loss of our privileges) and the implicit or explicit belief that we simply need to go back to the Christian values of the good old days – days that never really existed (especially for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). So, what would it look like to seek Jesus in the midst of this mess we find ourselves in? I’m still discerning, but repentance, lament, and listening to the cries of our marginalized sisters and brothers might be where it all starts. Political preferences can no longer blind us to what is real: the god and country” myth is sin and produces sin when taken to its logical extreme. Jesus wants to revive us, to form us into the kind of people who are ready to take up our calling as agents of restorative justice and reconciliation. May it be so.

Kurt Willems, Pastor and Author, Seattle, WA

Putting Jesus at the center of our lives as we navigate the chaos, disorientation, and heartbreak of this polarizing moment means we can be healers of the social fabric as our country unravels before our eyes. Jesus at the center means we refuse to place our ultimate security and hope in the stability of any leader or nation state, including the U.S. Jesus alone is the anchor point of our ultimate hope. The greatest gift of love for our country would be for us to despair not. Jesus at the center releases us from the anxious hold of the powers and principalities so that we can be fearlessly humble agents of truth and reconciliation. 

Jon Hand, Leadership Development Pastor at Jesus Collective, US citizen living in Welland, ON, Canada 

Politicians have sometimes liked to speak of America as a city on a hill.” But there is only one city on a hill that Jesus dreamed of and appointed to light up the world: the church – humble, meek, and defenseless, yet filled with the power of cruciform love that no force of darkness can withstand. This is the time to let our light shine, to show what the alternative is. 

Meghan Good, Pastor and Author, Glendale, AZ

What we are witnessing is a disintegration – in the most literal sense. The opposite of wholeness and unity. Divided and distant. But in the midst of this deep brokenness, I find a deep longing for things not to be this way. I am reminded of Jesus’ command to seek first His Kingdom. 

We don’t have to be reminded to seek things we readily see. As I set my eyes on Jesus, I am confronted with how radically different His way is from mine. I find a glimpse of how beautiful the Kingdom of God is and is to be. And as I desperately seek His Kingdom and prioritize His will, I am filled with great hope as the vision for His Kingdom frames everything else. 

Mike Ashcraft, Pastor, Wilmington, NC 

The troublemakers bring the Jesus way into a more distinct view. For a while the whole world will watch to see if Caesar is self-immolating. But among the people, Jesus followers will continue to demonstrate a way through the demand that everyone take a side for or against the powers that be and will continue to side with the one who was and is and is to come. I feel no great surprise or anguish today. We may need to nonviolently join the fight or stand between the warring parties, but the most recent events are just an extreme example of what we face every day. As shocking and disheartening as it is to see people documented on film and recorded as they do evil things, I don’t think Jesus is amazed that they need to be saved. I am energized to do my part in the saving.

Rod White, Pastor, Philadelphia, PA

Coming out of the Christmas season and into our current reality, I am reminded that God revealed his love through Jesus who was born to an unwed mother, adopted by a foster father, and worshipped by lowly shepherds and foreign outsiders. The political and religious leaders, led by King Herod, literally chased the son of God with his family out of the country as political refugees. When Herod, the religious leaders, and their followers felt their power threatened they resorted to using coercion and violence to protect it. All the while they are totally blind to the presence of Jesus and the ugliness of their fury. Their anger reveals their fear. Their loss of self-control reveals their illusion of control. Their violence unmasks their idolatry and spiritual enslavement. Have we been witnessing a similar unmasking this week and throughout 2020?

The good news of this story is that Jesus can free us from living the self-centered story of Herod and the religious leaders to live into the life-giving story of Jesus. As the world rages, God’s kingdom of utter goodness is being planted through unlikely people who love and follow Jesus.

George Bedlion, Pastor, Puyallup, WA

Watching the recent events in D.C., I could not help but feel a deep sense of grief. Listening to my daughters express their shock and disappointment further broke my heart. As I sought for a scripture to speak to me, the only scripture that came to me was Jesus wept.” It wasn’t what I was looking for but it was exactly what I needed. I wish I had more answers on what needs to be done, or a word on how God is turning things around, but at this moment I don’t. What I do have is the presence of the One that weeps with us when we’re at a loss for answers and the One that weeps with us also has the words of eternal life. This gives me hope to keep trusting that love wins. Even when things look dark, love has a way of bringing things to life.

Keith Smith, Pastor, Wooster, OH

Putting Jesus in the center for me right now means adopting the posture of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. It requires me taking all of my hurt, frustration, pain, rage, and disappointment, and laying it at the feet of my Heavenly Father. And then waiting. Waiting until He gives me strength, hope, and a prophetic and clarifying word so that when I open my mouth to speak, I can offer truth and peace to those to whom I am assigned.

Shannon Polk, Pastor, Flint, MI