Our country is divided.
Divided by perspective and experience.
Divided by values and morals.
Divided by extremes.
Divided by ethnicity.
Divided by economics.
Divided by prejudice.
Divided by racism.
Divided, but needy.
How should I respond?
How should one who claims allegiance and affection for Jesus Christ and His redeeming, reconciling, justifying, grace-giving cross-work, respond?
Admit–that there is a problem
There are individuals who do not have the same freedoms and opportunities I have.
Acknowledge–that I have a problem
I have not experienced what individuals of different ethnicity and skin color have experienced.
I cannot fully understand what black Americans have experienced.
I have not tried hard enough to understand the issues since I have not had the same experience.
I have not studied the history of Black Americans enough. I have not understood the Black church and that many of the heroes of the Black church should be heroes of mine.
I have bias, which I must identify.
Affirm–that the gospel requires action
The gospel is holistic and should not be compartmentalized.
Advocate–gospel people cannot remain on the sideline
The gospel must be evident in the impact on and for the marginalized, oppressed and hurting.
Therefore, I must…
Learn to listen
Listen to Black Evangelical Pastors who believe the same truths I believe, but who face issues I have never had to face personally.
Listen in order to learn
Take the initiative to read history–I cannot understand without context.
Take time to listen and hear the heart of Black Christians who love the Lord, love truth, love the gospel, and are hurting deeply. Hurting for their community. Hurting for their nation. Hurting for the lack of support from the white church. Hurting from insensitive, misinformed, poorly timed platitudes. Hurting from isolation rather than partnership in the gospel.
Take time to listen, not just when the topic is race, in the midst of a tense racial period. But listen to how they teach God’s Word and how they apply it.
The lament of the marginalized and oppressed echoes many Scriptural passages. The courage and commitment which produces hope and perseverance demonstrate a trust in the Lord from which I can learn.
Who I have been listening to…
On Racial issues
The whole conversation is worth listening to, but I really appreciated Pastor Nyron Burke’s passion for the gospel. (time index 34:00-39:21)
Just good teaching
Listen to love
Spend time learning from and listening to passionate, Christ-loving, truth-speaking Black Christians. Value their perspective. Value their voice. Value them. Truly love them.
Listening and learning require avoiding an echo chamber or groupthink by being purposeful and discerning in listening to the right voices.
To love those who are different. The Black Church has a rich history of holding communities together, of impacting families, of holistic ministry that impacts whole cities, of deep teaching, of passionate worship, and so much more. Loving will require understanding diversity and seeking unity will require truly loving in actions not just words.
Loving others includes loving and caring for the marginalized and oppressed.
- I appreciate this helpful theological statement on diversity, unity and community. Dallas Seminary–Unity, Diversity and Community.
Love the whole Gospel
The gospel is transformational. It transforms individuals and must transform communities.
The gospel is plural not singular. It is “we” not just “me.” But it was also intended to create one single new body, one new man (Ephesians 4:13).
The gospel must change
–my affection for God–to care so deeply for His glory that it changes all my desires
–my affection from God–to care about what He cares about…
He cares about justice and mercy
He cares for the marginalized, oppressed, and needy
The gospel is about God’s righteousness in Jesus Christ justifying the sinner. Through God’s righteousness, we get justified. And since we are free from seeking to please God, we are free to serve others. God’s righteousness, possessed by the justified, requires acting in just and righteous ways. It requires seeking justice.
Righteousness and justice are intertwined concepts (in Greek they are cognates–one a noun, the other a verb).
Righteousness is God’s moral standard, based in His own character and declared in His Word.
Justice is the equitable and impartial application of God’s moral law in society. Much of the Mosaic Law was instructing people to live out justice.
We are called into a right relationship with God. And expected and commanded to live right with others. To love God and love others.
Psalm 89:14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. (ESV)
Psalm 9:4 For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment. (ESV)
Isaiah 1:17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. (ESV)
Micah 6:8 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? (ESV)
2 Samuel 8:15 So David reigned over all Israel. And David administered justice and equity to all his people. (ESV)
Leverage the Gospel
The gospel must affect all areas of my life.
The gospel, the grace of the cross applied by full conviction of trust was intended to change–individual lives, family life, community life, education, business, economics, entertainment and politics.
Therefore, keeping my perspective and ministry gospel centric means seeking to influence all areas of life. Including those where injustice has prevailed. What will that look like?
Leverage your voice
I am first a Christian, but I am an American–therefore my gospel centric perspective must affect how I live as an American. Seeking justice. I have the privilege to speak for truth and must use that privilege for the benefit of others.
I believe all people are created in the image of God and are valuable. At this key period in history, I declare–Black Lives Matter.