Let me begin by stating the obvious, or at least what should be the obvious for anyone who professes to be a follower of Jesus Christ, the One True and living God. Injustice is horrific. God hates it and demands that all of us would behave in a manner that is just for all people. Micah 6 provides us with a well known, almost axiomatic passage especially among those who are focused solely or mostly upon social justice issues.
6 “With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
The killing of George Floyd is abominable. I do not think that can be overstated. Frankly, while watching the video of his murder, I was not only disturbed and sickened, the anger that was aroused in me brought tears to my eyes as I watched, as well as made my blood boil. I have dear friends, brothers and sisters for whom I would give my life, that have experienced far too much harassment and degradation in their lives because of the amount of melanin in their skin. I have been lumped up more than once by police officers, for resisting arrest, which included being pepper sprayed, hit with batons, and otherwise aggressively handled. But I invited those times by being both physically and verbally hostile during altercations with police officers. I got what was coming to me, and yet I never once feared for my life. Of course, these incidents were prior to my coming to Christ. Sadly, however, I’ve known and observed too many instances wherein simply being pulled over with friends of different skin hues has brought out fears and anxieties completely foreign to me. I’ve probably heard over a couple dozen times, “Greatman, you need to shut the f— up before you get us shot!” while hanging out with my ethnically diverse band of brothers over the years. The shear freedom of running my mouth and talking smack, in the midst of being harassed by police officers has caused a few of my friends to get really angry with me, because they believed I could have potentially been endangering their lives. During those altercations, I would be saying things like, “Bump that man, we ain’t doing nothing wrong! Why do we need to stand for this BS?!” My friends would plainly say, “You ain’t black. They won’t shoot you or take you in for being white. So just do us a favor and shut up!” I knew what they were saying was true. I would get my driver license handed back to me after a glance at it and their ID’s would go through a more thorough check on the radio. I realize this is anecdotal. I also understanding that we weren’t being model citizens during such encounters. But I’ve also witnessed first hand what my African American brothers had to go through that I didn’t, with police officers in various parts of the U.S.And I also knew that I really didn’t know what they felt. I could sympathize, but I could not truly empathize in those particular situations.
Now, please understand, I also have several good friends who are law enforcement officers, and I do believe that the vast majority of people who volunteer to protect and serve their communities are diligently desirous of stopping crime and being a force for good wherever they work. Sure, there are a few people who get into the profession to resolve their own issues of personal injustice and bullying from their childhood. But they are fairly easy to spot and avoid, especially when you are among those who don’t have to face an extra level of vigilance and profiling because of the color of your skin. I think, perhaps hope, or maybe even just want to believe that most rational people understand the dilemmas that ethnic minorities, but especially black people face in this country. While statistics indicate that black people are 11 times more likely to be killed by someone within their own ethnic community than a police officer, there are other numbers that also show us the likelihood of police officers being shot and killed in the line of duty, and how each of those numbers together show us a totally different narrative than what we are practically force fed by the majority of media outlets. Most of us don’t walk around unscrambling statistics in our brains, as we navigate life. When I am cruising the highways and bi-ways on my motorcycle, I take extra care and precautions to not get killed because I realize that a lot of people die on motorcycles. I don’t care how many specifically. I don’t measure the odds. I am simply careful because there is an inherent danger in riding a two wheeled vehicle at high speeds in and around much larger 4 + wheeled vehicles that most likely aren’t even paying attention to my existence out on the road. Similarly, while Derek Chauvin does not exemplify most police officers throughout the USA, his actions, as well as the many others that are publicized and politicized by the media make it reasonable for people with darker complexions to take extra precautions when in the vicinity of law enforcement. To need to believe that you need to live in fear for the sake of preserving your life or the lives of your loved ones is not a healthy way for anyone to live, much more an entire ethnic group. That is not merely a problem. That is unjust. It is not right that people of color would need to live in a different state of anxiety because of what they perceive as a likelihood that they could actually be murdered for a petty crime or even no crime at all, but merely because of a suspicion predicated on the color of their skin.
I’ve been reticent to write on this topic for several reasons. One is that I do not believe that we live in a nation that is innately racist. And sometimes entering the fray of such a discussion seems to perpetuate the idea of racism, because of all the emotional and psychological implications, without allowing ourselves to get to the deeper truths. At this point in our culture, however, I think that racism and bigotry are more red herrings that distract us from richer discussions and more helpful solutions than those topics seem to inspire. There are simply far too many people with widely diverse circles of friends to allow us to practically believe that any single segment of a population as a whole can or should be marginalized or judged by an external physical characteristic. We know better and we know that those who allow themselves to think in broadly generalized racist or prejudice terms are fools. Even the stereotypical jokes are played out at this point.
I decided to write about this situation, the execution of George Floyd, not as some sort of white apologist desirous to right or apologize for all of the world’s wrongs, but as a Christian who sees this as yet another moment wherein the national media spotlight could take us away from gospel conversations rather than towards them. Beloved saints, please understand this. The Lord has taught us, through His Word, that our former way of thinking is no good to us. Galatians 3:23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
Derek Chauvin needs Jesus. George Floyd’s family needs Jesus. We all need Jesus, especially to see the various issues of the day more clearly. And the issues of the day, for most of us, are issues that we need to address in our own homes, our own neighborhoods and communities. Although we are not called to put our heads in the sand and ignore injustice, obviously, if we can be manipulated into getting worked up about things for which we cannot affect any sort of significant change, while ignoring the good works for which we have been created and are right in front of us to do, then the devil is satisfied. How do I concern myself with what is going on in the world? The answers will vary for each of us. But the Bible does tell us in 2 Corinthians 5:16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
There are movements like this one, https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/ that would have us engage very important social issues in ways that bring further division, with no visible intention of stirring in people a desire or means of reconciliation. Such movements are not beneficial to the Christian. While black lives DO MATTER and have equal and inherent value to God, as all lives do, I do not believe that the BLM movement is seeking to unite people at all. I must be able to live out a care for people that will demonstratively share the love of Christ with any and all people, as well as provide mercy and grace to anyone who has been wounded and under served or marginalized for any reason. As a Christian, I cannot, I must not exclude anyone from the love of Christ. Therefore, I seek out people and places in my immediate locale that will benefit from the love of Christ and are receptive to the gospel. I must be a peacemaker right where I live.
Furthermore, if/when I decide to get wrapped around the axle, as it were, about anything, I must seek and pray to The Lord about whether my involvement will bring a Christ glorifying solution to a matter, or merely pay lip service to an ideology without bringing any real, tangible resolution to the situation. Below is a fairly current story about Christians in Hura, Nigeria, who were murdered by Islamic extremists. It is yet another horrific tragedy, and sadly, more common globally than police shootings of Black Americans. Now, at one level, because of our salvation in Christ Jesus, we are united by The Holy Spirit to all of His saints globally, and our sharing in such a great salvation demands our concern for our eternal brother and sisters at a much deeper level than those who are not of our shared faith, we should ask if there is anything we can or should do to bring restoration and reconciliation to our family members in Nigeria. But if we are unaware of this situation in Nigeria, or those being persecuted in Laos or Cuba or elsewhere around the world, we would have no inkling to even inquire about such issues. If we are first and primarily citizens of The Kingdom of God, and secondarily citizens of a particular country, perhaps it would be wise for us to oblige ourselves to broader or at least different set of media inputs than what we are force fed in the mainstream here. After all, by God’s grace, we have access, through the internet, to so much more than what the popular apps would propagate to enslave and incite us.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” So much of what we are subjected to ingest divests us of any real, God given, God ordained power that could elevate our love for Him and proliferate a tangible love for His gospel, His Son, or His creation. The much publicized protests and riots around our country, the global violence against our eternal family members, the wide array of distractions that we engage, all too often results in nothing but a bitter cacophony of blurred, sometimes overwhelming unrest and disease, when we are in possession of and possessed by The Prince of Peace. It is good to “be angry and sin not,” at the knowledge of any injustice. Let us not sin in making noise or sowing division, whether by simply contributing to senseless, prolonging ethereal divisive conversations, or avoiding the truth that is directly in front of us. We are all here for such a time as this, to do what God has given us to do. If we intentionally, proactively love our families, our neighborhoods, our communities within our immediate jurisdiction, we will affect change to the glory of God. Too many of us are investing in situations and circumstances wherein we have no significant impact, when we could be doing the next right thing in front of us to love our neighbors as ourselves and sow into our own places of influence the grace of Christ that will have lasting impact for generations to come. That doesn’t mean we ignore the murder of George Floyd, nor the murder of Christians in Nigeria. That does mean that we rightly steward our resources of time, talent, and treasure at a local level, to ensure a situation like that in Minneapolis is never fostered where we live. We have local churches, Boys & Girls Clubs, PAL’s, community centers and various other places where can directly impact the lives of our neighbors in ways that may never be shown on Facebook or YouTube, but they’ll be remember beyond the Gates of Splendor for eternity.
In Service to The King – PC