Wisdom and courage live at different altitudes. When we are wisest we rise to heights that reveal our common human flaws, the complexity of our connections, and that ethical living is often like handling spider webs with boxing gloves. From these heights, it is easy to talk about grace and about our common sin. These heights offer solace and peacefulness. Like Peter, we would love to remain up where the view is more panoramic and grand. Because we are now hearing racism endorsed from the highest office in the land, now is not the time for detached wisdom. Now is the time for courage.
Courage gets its hands dirty. Courage takes a side. Wisdom may say that everyone is blessed but courage says, “Blessed are the poor.” Wisdom may say that everyone is a neighbor but courage names the neighbor “Samaritan.” Wisdom writes poetry in the mountains. Courage gets crucified on the roadside. Wisdom says “All lives matter.” Courage says, “Black Lives Matter.” When people are in the wrong they beg for their critics to adopt an altitude (attitude) of compassionate wisdom. When people are being beaten, we are called to take the altitude (attitude) of courageous empathy.
I do not pretend to know exactly what courage looks like these days. Many of you are participating in protests or rallies. Many of you are addressing what is going on in sermons. I doubt either is sufficient but believe both are necessary. What you need to know is that I will have your back in whatever ways you choose to “resist evil.” I do not care if you upset people because you “got political.” While I hope that our courage is informed by frequent trips to the higher altitude of wisdom, I do not want wisdom to rob us of the courage we need when it comes time to take a side.