In light of the tragedies surrounding Alton Sterling and Philando Castile on July 5 and July 6, I was asked by my pastor to write an article to our congregation that we might take more steps in understanding the racial narrative and how White Christians can better display the gospel toward their African American brothers and sisters. Here is what I wrote.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:1, ESV)
By now we all have heard of the shootings by law enforcement that resulted in the deaths of two African American men, Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, LA and Philando Castile of St. Paul, MN, on July 5 and July 6 respectively. These two men are just a small, but no less significant, part of a larger narrative of systemic injustice against African-Americans. As a multi-ethnic church with a considereable number of African-American members and visitors, we must understand the impact these types of tragedies have and know how to respond. Particularly to my white brothers and sisters, but certainly not limited to you, I offer a few suggestions on how to respond.
First, do not ignore the data confirming systemic injustice and do not minimize or ignore the very real pain and hurt of those who have been affected by these types of tragedies. As gospel Christians, we should be compelled to weep with those who weep.
Second, if you desire to understand the racial narrative more clearly, how to interact with your African-American brothers and sisters from a gospel centered perspective and why we collectively suffer in the types of tragedies, talk to us and take advantage of many resources available. Here are a few resources. I pray they are helpful.
- Is Black Lives Matter the New Civil Rights Movement | Mika Edmondson
- Justice and Racial Reconciliation | The Village Church (Dallas, TX)
- The Church and Racial Reconciliation | Darrell L. Bock, Jeff Warren, and Bryan Carter
- A Call for White Believers to Engage Pain and Responsibility | Anonymous
- Grieving Racial Injustice as Citizens of the Kingdom of God | Jarvis Williams
- Police Shootings, Racial Justice and the Church | Russell Moore
- A Letter from Birmingham Jail | Martin Luther King, Jr. , August 1963
- Race and the American Church – A Brief Survey from Colonialism to WWII | Otis Pickett
- Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America | Michael O. Emerson & Christian Smith
- Bloodlines | John Piper (available as a free PDF also)
- Aliens in the Promised Land: Why Minority Leadership Is Overlooked in White Christian Churches and Institutions | Anthony Bradley
- Letters to a Birmingham Jail: A Response to the Words and Dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. | ed. Bryan Loritts
- The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration | Isabel Wilkerson
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.” – 1 John 3:14 ESV