Stunned. Numb. Too overwhelmed for words, as two more black men lost their lives this week to police violence. This was a week of further racial divides.
“How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails.” Hab. 1:2-4a.
Habakukkuk’s cry is certainly relevant today. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile added their names to 136 other black victims of police shootings this year. This week also witnessed the horrifying gunning down of twelve police officers, five of whom died. As the Dallas police chief stated, “All I know is that this must stop — this divisiveness between our police and our citizens.”
THIS MUST STOP.
We just celebrated the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a document that profoundly demonstrates the problem when a nation grows “deaf to the voice of justice.” As a nation pledging justice for all and as Christ followers called to do justice (Mic. 6:8), let’s take action to end racial injustice. We all want justice, so with J U S T I C E as our guide, here are 7 ways to overcome racial divides.
[bctt tweet=”As a nation pledging justice for all let’s take action to end racial injustice.” username=”gospel_justice”]
- J – Judge not. (Mt. 7:1-2). We all do it. Be honest. Some people hear I’m a white, middle-aged, lawyer and they make assumptions. That said, let’s acknowledge the profound difference between those assumptions and assumptions that lead to people dying. Not all judgments are created equal. Still we should all judge people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Here’s your first step – take the Harvard implicit racial bias test.
- U – Understand the problem. (Prov. 3:13). The problem with racial divides is racism. My black friends don’t need me to say that, but my white friends do. Polls show those of us with a lighter skin tone actually believe we are discriminated against as much as people of color. Yikes. Sure I used to bemoan not getting into Harvard because of affirmative action. Boo Hoo. Every day people can’t get jobs to support families, can’t secure housing, and live in real fear of a simple traffic stop. That’s the ugly truth of racism. Here’s your next step – read something written by a person of color. I suggest The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. The book of James is also helpful. He was a person of color. Spoiler alert – so was his half-brother – Jesus.
- S – Silently lament. (Lamentations). People are hurting. Don’t rush past that. Our friends of color in the Bible really understood the power of lament. Take some time to be silent. Take some time to cry out in lament. Spend time listening to the pain of others. By the way – that goes equally for our friends in blue – the officers who were shot and killed in Texas. Push past barriers of racial divides.
- T – Trust God. Don’t rush past this either. Many people want to do justice, but they put pride or politics ahead of letting God be God. Justice is a path of humility. Let’s trust God to open hearts, open eyes, move people to action, and do what only He can do to bring about peace and reconciliation (Eph. 2:14). He is the one who destroys all racial divides.
[bctt tweet=”Many people want to do justice, but they put pride or politics ahead of letting God be God.” username=”gospel_justice”]
- I – Involve others. Don’t just race to this point, but do get here. We need prophets crying out against injustice. We need to pull people together. If you are a person of color will you please involve those of us who aren’t? We need each other. While I encourage being involved in peaceful protest, here is an easy way to show you care about racial justice. Print off this card and write what you are trusting God for in the midst of this injustice. Share your concern on social media.
- C – Church. Church you are God’s plan for the world. Stop living in a gated community. I know the priest and Levite were the church figures of Jesus day, but He wants us to be Samaritans who stop and serve neighbors in need (Lk 10:31-33). This starts by addressing the issue from the pulpit. How can people have a Biblical lens for addressing injustice if pastors don’t preach? Thank you for addressing sexual issues and right to life issues. The Bible certainly addresses those issues, but justice is the second most prominent theme in Scripture and yet most Sundays you would not know that. There appears to be a hole in our gospel. Let’s address justice issues including racial injustice.
- E – Engage. Church mobilize your people. We talk a lot about building walls and too many churches have built walls from their community. Tear them down. Build bridges instead. Does the mayor know who you are? Does the chief of police? Why not? There is no better way to demonstrate the power of the gospel in the challenges of this world than by engaging injustice. Talk about the issues, listen to what others are saying, and challenge leaders and others in authority. We can, and should, be bridge builders in the community. The world is watching to see if our words align with our actions. Let’s be doers of the word. (Jms. 1:22). One practical way might be building a justice community together with us. Justice often requires some expertise and we welcome partnering with you in the work of justice. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to explore further.
JUSTICE is not an easy formula. Justice is hard work worth doing. The challenges surrounding racial divides are many. Yet the just are called to live by faith (Hab. 2:4). God answered Habakkuk’s cry, with a reminder that He is sovereign and in control – “the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.” Hab. 2:20. We work for justice as a reflection of Jesus and His coming Kingdom. But we do so recognizing perfect justice will not happen until Christ returns and establishes a throne of justice and righteousness upon the earth. Until that day comes let us faithfully pursue the work of justice as we demonstrate the love of Jesus by destroying barriers of hostility – including racial barriers.
What do you think? What one practical step will you take?