The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy ~ Dr. Martin Luther King
There comes a time in all of our lives where we come to a crossroads and we will have to choose. The road of silence is appealing as it lures us with safety and comfort, while the road of speaking up often scares us as it is filled with challenge and vulnerability. Regardless of which we choose we will have to live with the implications of the choice we make.
What I am about to share began as a video and turned into a blog. I have prayed about it most of the day and finally walked away for a couple hours to think through which road I would take. Because you are currently reading my thoughts the answer is obvious. However, in the spirit of full transparency, know that hitting “publish” wasn’t easy, but necessary.
The last few weeks in our country have been tense, to say the least. A few weeks back we saw a young man of color shot and killed while simply jogging down the street. This past week we saw another man of color, in a video, beg for his life. A plea that met deaf ears and ultimately led to his death.
Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd…they have names, they have a family, they have a story, and they leave a legacy. Both senseless murders, lighting the powder keg of racial tension in our country.
Over the last several days I have wrestled with the devastating circumstances of both their deaths. No political motivation, no race bait, no ulterior motive, just simple outrage and disgust over the lack of value for human life. My heart has agonized and ached as I have tried to find words to articulate the magnitude of the situation. I don’t think those words actually exist in the human language.
Racism is not getting worse, its getting filmed ~ Will Smith
People of color are hurting in the United States and they have been hurting for a very long time. Racism is not new, it’s a narrative that can be traced back to the very inception of this country. Which is interesting, considering freedom and equality are the cornerstone beliefs we were founded on. However, while the narrative of racism is not new; the graphic videos that we have all seen are. In the day and age when every one of us has a video camera on us at all times through our phones…the narrative has now been paired with very real and very horrifying visuals…not in in the 1860’s, not in the 1960’s, but in 2020 America. I don’t know how any person can watch the video of George Floyd, saying “I can’t breath” over and over again and not be disturbed. When we lose our sensitivity to the sacredness of human life, we lose the very essence of what makes us human to begin with.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. ~ Dr. Martin Luther King
In the last few days I have began to wonder, “where has the voice of the Church been?” What I have realized is that up to this point the voice has been very low, almost silent. However, I do not believe silence is an option any longer for the Church of Jesus Christ. The days of side stepping the issue and hoping that in the silence it will simply go away on its own, are over. Silence does not evidence a love for God or His beloved creation, humanity. In fact, what it actually does is perpetuate the problem.
Racism is a sin…period. There is no way to sugar coat it or water it down. But hear my heart…the fact that its sin, is not my truth, but rather the truth found in the Word of God.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.” ~ Genesis 1:26
Every single person is created in the imagine of Almighty God.
Every. Single. One!!!!
Every race, every ethnicity. This simple truth leaves ZERO room or tolerance for racism in the people of God.
The apostle Paul writes to the church in Galatia
“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all one in Christ” ~ Galatians 3:38
This is a powerful reminder that all the worldly distinctions placed upon people, God doesn’t see. In fact, God only sees two things…people found in His Son, Jesus Christ and people who need a real and authentic encounter with His Son, Jesus Christ.
James, the brother of Jesus wrote…
“Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law found in Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But, if you favor some people over others you are committing a sin.” ~ James 2:8-9
God shows no preferential treatment and it is a sin for His people to do so.
Because of the words of Jesus Himself when asked…
“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?’ Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all you heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” ~ Matthew 22: 36-40
Silence is no longer an option for the Church of Jesus Christ because in order to truly love God we must actually obey Him. Obeying Him means loving our neighbors…all of them; not just the ones who look, think, and live like us.
This morning my heart was so heavy and burdened that I didn’t even want to get out of bed. The heaviness of the tension in our country lingered as I fell asleep to news clips of protests and rioting. America is literally on fire. Tempers are raging, hearts are broken, people of color are hurting, and that hurt runs deep. And the rest of us sit here trying to wrestle with the mess of it all.
And in our wrestling I think the realization I have come to is that most of white America does not understand the pain of this situation. We can empathize and our hearts can break, but that doesn’t mean we understand. I have a teenage son. I have never once worried that if he went out for a run he might get shot. I have never worried that my husband might find himself in the same kind of predicament as George Floyd found himself in. I’ve never been followed simply because of the color of my skin.
But our lack of understanding is not an excuse to remain silent. It means that we, as the people of God, must do a better job of building bridges and forging relationship to glean a greater understanding.
How good to sing praises to our God! How delightful and how fitting. The Lord is rebuilding Jerusalem and bringing the exiles back to Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. ~ Psalm 147:3
I believe with all my heart that the Church of Jesus Christ is in a season of purging and pruning. I believe God wants to bring revival to this generation. But revival will never come through a Church that tolerates racism with their silence.
You see the true beauty of the Body of Christ, the very thing that sets us apart is the fact that we are beautiful tapestry of differences. Different races, different ethnicities, different upbringings, different cultures, even different ideologies. Yet, we are all united in the oneness of Jesus, a bond so much greater than all the things that make us different. To sit silent, allowing one of the parts of our beautiful tapestry to be hurt or mistreated is a slap in the face to the One who created us all.
Make no mistake, this situation devastates the very heart of God. The root of racism is sin and where there is sin there is always brokenness and wherever there is brokenness there is pain and heartbreak. But God has promised to heal our broken hearts and bind our wounds. Healing and reconciliation; that is what God desires. The question is, will we be part of His solution or will we lend to the problem by not acknowledging there even is a problem?
Jesus is the hope of the world and the local church is the vehicle of expressing that hope to the world. ~ Andy Stanley
The events of the last week have been devastating, but the hurt and the pain does not have to have the final say. If we truly believe the promises of God are real, if we truly submit to His authority in our lives then He has positioned us in an extraordinary spot. He has placed in a time such as this to be part of the solution to a centuries old problem.
God will heal the brokenhearted and He will bind the wounds of the hurting, but we, His children, MUST be active participants of the healing process.
We need to get on our faces before Almighty God and confess our sin of silence and apathy. We must ask Him to interceded on our behalf. We must ask Him how we can be a voice of healing in the pain. And we must ask Him to allow us to see people through His eyes, not through the way we’ve been conditioned to see them.
We need to sit at tables with our brothers and sisters of color and begin conversations and forge relationships. It in these circles we must humble ourselves and admit that many of us do not understand their experience but want to open dialogue to learn. Because knowledge eliminates ignorance.
I do not believe the problem will go away over night. However, if each one of us does something we can begin to move in the right direction.
Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness ~ Mother Teresa
As hard as this chapter in human history is we must remember that hopes resides in the people of God. Within each of us is the hope of Jesus and we have the ability to share that hope in every interaction we have. Through the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us, we have the supernatural ability to be agents of healing and reconciliation. But we must first choose the hard road of breaking the silence…that is our first step on the long road ahead.
My prayer in writing this blog is that all of my brothers and sisters in Christ will join me in being mindful of the implications of our actions and inaction. That our one common desire would be to shine the light of Christ in the words we choose, the actions we take, and the posts we put out for all to read. There is enough darkness all around us, we do not need to add to it. In fact, I believe that God is issuing us all a challenge…will we be part of the change HE wishes to see in our world.
I’m in…how about you?