How do we respond?
Where do you start a post like this? Our country has been rocked by 2 shootings in 2 days, (and just as I (Kevin) finished writing this post I hear that 5 police officers are dead and 7 more are wounded). I could write a whole post lamenting the effects of personal sin, systemic sin, the wicked in power, or the affliction of the needy. This could be one long post crying out to God for swift justice, help, vindication, transforming power, and the renewal of all things. For the moment, I just want to lead us to slow down and gather ourselves so that we can love one another and be faithful to Christ in these times.
Those of us in the majority grieve the tragedy, but then can sadly, and fairly quickly, move on. As Christians, we cannot do that without being hypocritical. Jesus said that His people would always be a part of the persecuted minority. We’re among those in this world who regularly cry out to God, “How long O Lord?” Part of what it means to bear each others burdens and sorrows in this case is come along side our black brothers and sisters in the church and broader community who are not moving on, and mourn this situation with them.
Helpful Words From A Brother And Sister
That’s why I appreciated reading what our brother Kenny Long posted yesterday. Here’s a couple of paragraphs from his post that struck me.
I personally was a kid who experimented with drugs, vandalized neighborhoods, stole, and even participated with guys who broke into peoples homes: I was about 12 years old around this time. One guy who was a part of this group was shot and killed some 10 years later breaking into someone’s home, while the other guys became felons. The only thing that separates me from those guys was God’s grace towards me. We were young, poor, and desperate black boys who were raised by the streets and an exploited version of hip-hop called gangsta rap that was promoted by white owned corporations. This is not an excuse, but it is a simple fact. My rescue came through the gospel of Jesus, and specifically through the patient and loving care of a godly white couple named Daniel and Jennifer Money!…
The reason Christians are more responsible than any other group on planet earth to respond to social injustice, is because they have the ONLY answer for real lasting change. Think about it for a second: we believe that God made humans in His image (Genesis 1:27), but that mankind fell from grace (Genesis 3) and then God paid the price on our behalf to save us from God’s eternal wrath so that we could have a relationship with Him (1 Peter 3:18, 2 Cor 5:16-21). You were a poor, naked, wretched enemy of God and He in His perfection initiated and even caused reconciliation! How do you think you have a right to judge a man based on his color and criminal past? Is God your color? According to God’s standard do you have a criminal past? What if God decided to give you what you deserved right now, would it be 6 shots in the chest? No, that would be mercy. If God would give you what you deserved right now it would be eternity in hell! The scary part is, if you call yourself a Christian and yet you can’t forgive the past of an Alton Sterling, the bible is clear when it says that if you don’t forgive others of their sins, then neither will your heavenly Father forgive your sins.
You can read all of his thoughts here.
I also appreciated what our sister Jess Johnson posted on her Facebook page.
I look at my sweet brown babies and I’m scared for them and the world they will grow up in. I watch my husband drive away and I pray. I’m sick to my stomach. I feel helpless. I have friends who will never understand this fear. I have friends who (unknowingly even) hold their own prejudices and think its fine. I don’t even know what I am saying at this point. Only that my heart is sick. I am scared and angry and ANGRY. Not at police. Not at white people. Our fight is not with them. “Our battle is not with flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
I’m thankful for what Kenny and Jess have written for us, especially when so much of what’s written on social media is not helpful. I lament the fact that social media seems to make everyone quick to speak and slow to listen. It’s certainly necessary to point out the problem. However, if all we do is point the finger at the problem or problem people, then we’re likely to lose our voice. What if we did that as Christians when it came to people’s sin problem with the same kind of anger that we see on social media right now? We’d be extremely self-righteous and hypocritical.
If we’re going to see real change, then we might get there quicker as a nation and people if we started judging people and government that is plagued by racism by first pulling the plank out of our own eyes (Matt. 7:1-5). Church, the sin of racism is tied to pride and the love of self. I don’t feel like I can cast the first stone here. This world is broken, government is broken, and I am broken. I need Jesus.
I don’t know what’s going on in everybody’s heart, but I hope that we as Christians can be different from the world here. Let’s be less concerned with displaying our anger by only pointing at the problem, or with exonerating ourselves by making it clear we’re on the right side. And let’s be more concerned with looking to Christ ourselves and pointing others to Him. The church can be more powerful than any post or tweet in these present days and the days to come. I don’t know what the immediate action steps we can take right now to make a difference, but I want and hope to do more. In the meantime, the church is in the best position to make a difference by simply being a faithful church.
In the church, the world can see a unity among different people that simply doesn’t exist anywhere else. Paul said that it’s a community of Jews and Gentiles, where the hostility has died and love has been put on, that displays the multi-faceted wisdom of God (Eph. 3:15). The wisdom of God is the gospel of our salvation and the hope of the world (Eph. 1:3-10). I’m thankful for the diversity we have, and I pray for more. We have one hope, one Lord, and one faith (Eph. 4:4-5). We’re bound together by His blood (Eph. 2:13). In the coming days, as we think about what more we can do to make a difference, let’s make sure that we love one another in order to display the power of the gospel and the glory of Christ. Reach out to black brother or sister, or other minority, in our church and let them know you’re thinking of them. Those of us who are a part of the majority would do well to sit down with a person of color and just ask them what it’s like to be a minority person in our country, or even in our church. Pray together. Serve one another. If you’re in the minority, follow Kenny’s example and show the world how different Christ is by lifting up the way that your white brothers and sisters have shown you love. And as always, let’s pray in one accord some of the Bible’s final words, “Come, Lord Jesus!”