How is it possible not to be troubled by injustice?
We watched in horror as a man begging for breath was choked by a police officer’s knee—while other officers stood by and watched. George Floyd deserved better.
It’s one more act of callousness, revealing the struggles that people of color encounter frequently. It’s not right.
Racism has gone on too long in our nation.
I understand why thousands are protesting. To remain silent to injustice is to be complicit. I’m also concerned with blanket statements that suggest all police officers are thugs because of the evil acts of a few.
Yes, I’m sad, and I’m troubled.
It bothers me that in a land of liberty and freedom, my brothers and sisters of color too frequently feel the choking leash of racism.
It saddens me that many of my white brothers and sisters are too comfortable in offering shallow platitudes without substance.
It requires more than words to transform systemic oppression. Despite the sincerity of our words, they are inadequate to right the wrongs of racial injustice.
This blog is not a political position or rant. It’s a recognition that as a follower of Christ, I must do better.
As a minister and follower of Jesus, it’s easy to live in my bubble. I fail to enter into the sufferings and injustices of those outside my sphere of influence as I should. I want to believe that I care. I know I’m supposed to.
There are thousand-and-one reasons I can find to justify turning a blind eye to a sin that has been encouraged and nourished by white people for too long, racism. But despite my excuses, a love that ignores justice and mercy is not loving.
Distancing and disconnecting myself from the wounds of those who suffer makes me as complicit as those who inflict pain. The care of my needs and desires never permit me to ignore or discard the marginalized or disenfranchised in my community.
We are offended by the word racist. We want to shy away from it as far as possible. We acknowledge racism exists, but want to believe that prejudice is limited to radical white supremacist groups. It’s more comfortable for me to ignore my sin by placing it on others.
A lawyer, well respected by his community, and willing to “test” Jesus, asks: “[W]hat shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25) The story unfolds, demonstrating how Jesus asks him how he interprets the “Law” (the commandments of God). His reply is:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” [Emphasis, mine].
Jesus let him know that he has answered correctly. Then he tells him: “…do this, and you will live” (vs.28).
I’ve wondered: How the lawyer’s life might have been different if he would have asked: “How can I do this?” Instead, he asks: “Who is my neighbor?” (vs. 29), a question a lot of us ask.
Questioning who our neighbor is, quickly deflects our attention from the real issue. The Jews’ interpretation of “neighbor” was narrow and technical, excluding Samaritans and Gentiles.
But as we know, loving God and our neighbor is a combo-package. If we fail to love our neighbor, we fail to love God. If we say we love God, and fail to love our neighbor, we do not love God (c.f. 1 John 4:7-8).
Religious rituals without merciful action never fool God. Amos, a prophet of God, denounced his society for injustice despite their ceremonial correctness (Amos 5:21-24).
The longing of God’s heart for his people when Amos was a prophet, is still His expectation for us today:
“…[L]et justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
I understand why people are protesting. Racial injustice has gone on way too long.
It’s impossible for me as a white, middle-class American to comprehend the experiences of my friends of color. I can be as compassionate and caring as possible, but I will never fully feel the pain and emotions they experience.
I admit consoling words are insufficient in the face of injustice. It would be nice to think there could be 10-neat-and-tidy steps to eliminate racism. They don’t exist. But that doesn’t mean we are exempt from advocating for justice and mercy.
Some of my white friends have asked me: What can we do? I want to encourage each of us to continue to ask that question prayerfully. Let me suggest four things, to begin with:
Confess Your Sin
Here’s what I know: Racist actions are equally subtle as they are overt. I’m guilty of sinning unknowingly as well as knowingly. A “Confession of Sin” must be a part of our daily prayer:
“Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry, and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.”
Do the “heavy lifting” yourself.
Research and read. I’m not talking about the headlines or materials from only “white” perspectives. There are many great resources written by people of color that give insight into the problems of racism in our society.
You can start with this brief list of suggested articles and books to help inform and
Dr. Veronica Gilliard, a health disparities researcher in Atlanta, Georgia writes:
“Listen to the pain, anxiety, exhaustion, anger, fear, disgust, and trauma of Black people. Sit with us in our pain, and do not try to escape the discomfort under the guise of trying to fix the problem. Choose not to check out because we don’t have the luxury to check out of these lived realities.”
Paul reminds us: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15, emphasis, mine). Often, it’s our presence, not our words that offer love and hope.
Be prepared for rejection.
To advocate for justice and mercy is costly. There is no room for indifference. You either believe in the dignity of humankind, or you don’t.
You may lose friends and offend others. You will feel lonely and isolated, frustrated, and disappointed. You may miss the comforts of ignorance—and rest assured, you will be labeled.
Anger will be an on-going emotion that needs prayerful attention to temper and turn our actions from violence to constructive love. While protesting is appropriate, looting is not.
Lord, in your mercy, forgive us. May our anger — though rightful — be channeled into appropriate response to heal our wounds and restore dignity, liberty, and freedom for all.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Lk 10:27.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Am 5:24.