Over the last year, America has witnessed and experienced, what I believe to be racially charged acts of violence, even murder, against African Americans. Consider Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, the shooting in South Carolina, the McKinney, TX pool party incident, the young lady who was assaulted and was dragged out of class in Charleston, SC, and LaQuan McDonald. Most of the acts of violence were done by law enforcement. I’ve heard both sides of the argument whereby each party was to blame. It’s a never ending argument despite evidence captured on camera. There’s also the argument of individual racism vs. systemic/structural racism.
Like many black men in America, I’ve had to process all of this and sort through many thoughts and emotions. I’ve even wondered how law enforcement sees me as we drive past each other. I’ve been angry and I’ve been sad. I think some of my anger has been just as I see injustice and murder occurring before my very eyes. I’ve been sad because peoples’ lives have been unnecessarily taken from them through unrestrained violence. In many ways, it feels like the Civil Rights Movement all over again.
As a Christian black man, I’ve had to process and sort through many thoughts and emotions through the word of God. I’ve had to fight the tendency to think all white people see themselves as superior and blacks as inferior. I’ve had to fight the anger I’ve felt when our side of the narrative was being dismissed or when we’re charged with “not getting over it [racism]”. In other words, I’ve had to fight being partial to my kinsmen according to the flesh.
Clear biblical thinking is paramount in times like these. Clear biblical thinking must take into account that all men of every hue are sinners and sin manifests in myriads of ways. Specifically, the sin of racism entered the world in Genesis 3. It is nothing new. As a Christian, I’ve also been compelled to examine my own heart and actions to make sure I’m not adding to the racism narrative. Clear biblical thinking compels me to love my fellow man in the faith of every hue. Clear biblical thinking compels me love my fellow man of creation of every hue, even those who do evil, because I’ve been so dearly loved by God and because all men are created in His image (Genesis 1:26). Clear biblical thinking also compels me to speak of the One who shed His blood for the sins of man He created from every tribe, tongue and nation (Acts 17: 26-28, Revelation 5:9; 7:9) and united in Himself as one new man (Ephesians 2:11-22), the Christian, and the church is called to display His particular glory of ethnic unity now and for eternity (Ephesians 3:10-11).
Truly, the gospel is the only remedy for racial reconciliation and it is my firm conviction that pastors lead out personally and corporately in the fight against racism.
This past October, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisvlle, KY) hosted their annual Expositors Summit Conference and Preconference. One of the preconference speakers, Curtis Woods, offered some great insights concerning pastoring and the changing ethnic demographics happening in America. Please give his talk a listen and be challenged and encouraged!
Grace & Peace,
(Picture is courtesy of The District Church)