This is my friend Gerri. Gerri is an amazing mom. She is a Christian. She has weathered some turbulent storms in her life, including divorce.
She is black.
I am Serena. I am decent mother. I am a Christian. My marriage is pretty decent. I have weathered some turbulent storms in my life, including the death of a child.
I am white.
Some things Gerri has never said to me are:
- Sorry your kid died, but get over it.
- You had another kid so stop focusing on the past.
- You should be thankful for what you do have.
- You shouldn’t feel so ______.
Some things I have never said to Gerri are:
- Sorry about the slavery thing, but get over it.
- You guys are free now so stop focusing on the past.
- You should be thankful for the opportunities you have.
- You shouldn’t feel so ______.
Here’s the thing, I have never lived under the oppression of racism. I have never been falsely accused of crimes I didn’t commit. I have never lived under constant suspicion. I have never been denied education, economic opportunities or social equality.
I don’t understand it. And if you are white, you don’t understand it either. So let’s stop acting like we do.
Not only that, but let’s stop minimizing the effects of one of the gravest spiritual wrongs in the history of the world. It is not just a social injustice or a blemish on an otherwise pristine American history. It is a spiritual wrong. It is sin. The dehumanizing of an entire race of people who were created in the image of a holy God is sin.
Treating humans like a beast of burden is a grave sin. How do I know? I know because a couple thousand years before the same scene roused Yahweh to unleash 10 plagues on Egypt and free a nation through the greatest recorded miracle of parting the Red Sea.
Grave sin has grave consequences. They leave wounds that ooze infection into posterity. Those wounds are still bleeding. They are bleeding in Ferguson and Baltimore and New York. Every time an unarmed black man is killed by police the wounds are ripped deeper.
And now the church of Jesus must respond. We must respond as Jesus himself would respond.
I heard it said, “Riot is the language of the unheard.”
So listen. Don’t speak. Don’t lecture. Don’t make excuses for the establishment. Don’t reprimand anyone’s poor choices. Don’t scold unwed mothers. Don’t chastise absent fathers. Don’t blame. Don’t judge or condemn. Not now. Just listen.
Listen to the message of the riot. Listen to the voice of protest. Listen to the facts.
Stop ignoring the gaping, festering wound. Look at it. Acknowledge that it exists.
Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. Heb. 13:3
We might not understand, but we better try. We really better try.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” -Jesus
Love all people as yourself. Don’t just love people who are the same color, social status or cleaned up to your standards. Just love everyone with the same all encompassing, self-sacrificing love as Jesus Christ.
You want to blame the mother of six illegitimate children or the welfare class. You want to lump “them” all together as ignorant, savage fools. But maybe you have more blame than you want to accept.
Let me tell you one truth that will never, never change. Jesus is the only answer. If you know him, take him. Take him to the lost. Take him to the poor. Take him into the projects. Take him into the riot. Take Jesus into the wound. Watch him bind it. Watch him heal it. Watch him.
“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.” Luke 4:18