The church, culture, and justice



Some people I talk to deny the racial problems this nation is having right now.

“Racism isn’t an issue.”

It’s not?

Millions of African Americans seem to disagree. There is hurt, frustration, feelings of voicelessness in society. Is there racism?

To say that there isn’t is then essentially saying that this whole group of people is wrong. Which seems to then confirm the issue that’s being denied. It’s uncomfortable to be confronted that these problems still exist. At least, for me, it is. I wish these things weren’t the case.

If two people are married, and one of them says “you’ve done things that have hurt me. We have things we need to work though,” the other would be crazy to say “No we don’t. We have a very happy marriage.”

As the church, as people commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves, to mourn with those who mourn, are we not therefore mandated to have concern for what’s happening in our nation? To see injustices for what they are.

With the two shootings this week, I have seen some people who try so hard to explain them away or why these aren’t problems or to justify these deaths.

I’ve heard people say the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile murders are being “politicized.”

POLITICIZED?! With Sterling, the man was held down and shot to death. We can see it.

We have video of two men dying this week. One we see the actual shots. If you haven’t seen it, it’s disturbing. It’s shocking. How is that being politicized?

We can be dismissive. We can say things like “well black people kill each other at a higher rate” or “cops shoot more white people” or “Alton Sterling was a felon.” But is this attitude one that is willing to engage with the actual issues at hand? To me, it seems like it’s trying to mitigate the issues. It seems like it’s trying to downplay it.

There isn’t simply one issue in play.

These deaths keep happening and we keeping having camera footage of them. And too many ignore what can be seen.

I hear some people who sort of shrug off the Black Lives Matter protesters. “They’re rallying again.”

Well. The people keep dying in ways where deaths seemed avoidable. Issues keep not being addressed.

I’m not saying I agree with every single aspect of the movement.

I hear people respond to Black Lives Matter with “all lives matter.”

If you say “save the rain forest,” you’re not saying “all other ecosystems are unimportant.”

When you say “save the whales,” you’re not saying “forget about bears and eagles and elephants.”

If you participate in a race to raise money for breast cancer, you’re not saying other cancers aren’t important.

But when we hear “black lives matter,” and respond by saying “all lives matter,” we’re saying that the black lives matter movement DOESN’T matter. It’s dismissive of the entire movement. It’s indifferent and oblivious to injustices.

It’s easier to not do something than to do it. It’s easier to not care than to be challenged. I know I personally have much to learn.

It’s easy to act like there aren’t still racial issues. But if we deny that there are, when so many in the black community feel that there are, aren’t we essentially confirming that there are in fact issues?

As the Church, as the body of Christ, can we ignore these hurts? For Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, both of these seem to be deaths where they were shot very quickly.

The church has an opportunity to be an agent of change in the world. We’ve done it before. We will do it again. Hopefully we will with these matters. Too many times we have situations involving black men being killed by police. Thats not to say all police are bad. Of course that’s not true.

I know it’s an uncomfortable topic. Truth is polarizing. The gospel is polarizing. And unfortunately, right now, our nation is polarized.

People can blame politicians and civil rights leaders.

But we have multiple videos over the last couple years where people died and where things didn’t have to be that way. ‘

Instead of complaining about how politicians and civil rights leaders respond, when we see yet another black man gunned down, can’t we have a response other than indifference?

None of this is meant to knock the entire law enforcement community. The vast majority of officers do a great job and just want to make their communities safer. But there are things that can be done. There are changes that can be made. What happened in Dallas on Thursday is a tragedy. Certainly that was not the way forward. It unfortunately is a step backwards.

As I continue to process these issues, I know I have things I’m trying to do.

  1. Recognize that in standing up for injustice, that does not mean it’s agreeing with absolutely every element of a movement.
  1. Love truth for its own sake. Because truth is inherently good.

Isaiah 1:17 says: Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

  1. We should take seriously what the Bible says about the poor, the downtrodden, and the marginalized. In the Gospel of Luke, at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, he says:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

He did come for these groups. It is part of his vision for the Kingdom of Heaven which he came to inaugurate.

  1. I’m trying to listen. Listening to what is being said. Maybe you don’t really give much credence to this movement. But there are people in the black community who do care. Instead of justifying ignoring the entire movement and the entire conversation, to actually take an honest look.
  1. We can pray. Pray for our nation. Pray for our communities. Pray for unity. Pray for Jesus to work in our world. To bring people to himself


Categories: Church, Commentary, Culture

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