“Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter! BLACK! LIVES! MATTER!”
These were the chants I heard during the protest in Union Square here in New York last night and my heart broke. Why do we need a protest to declare such an obvious truth?!?
But we do. Sadly. Unjustly. We do. We must scream it, we must proclaim it and we must break out silence. After the continued death and impotent justice of African-Americans as evidenced most recently by Ferguson, MO and Eric Garner.
We must follow the example of Daniel in the Book of Daniel, chapter 9 when he heard of the brokenness around him and sought the Lord.
He repented of sins he had not personally committed, but owned the sins of his people. We, the church – and especially white evangelicals – must own the sins of our nation and our people. We must repent and seek God.
I wrote after the death of Mike Brown that we must repent of our missional silence. But how?
We must repent of our silence on racial injustice. But how?
It’s one thing to repent vocally about the wrongs that have been done, but it’s another thing truly repent with your life, that your lifestyle would be as Christ’s in seeking peace, justice, and reconciliation through the gospel.
Here are 5 steps to start breaking the missional silence on race.
My first response is to react. To tweet, to post, and express my outrage to others, when God invites us to see Him as the one able to change the injustice of the world.
We must pray, so that in communing with God we listen to His voice and connect with His heart instead of letting the media and the world dictate our thoughts and emotions.
We must pray, interceding to our God who has the hearts of kings in the palms of his hand, that He would change the system, that He would heal the hurting, that He would break down the dividing walls of hostility and reconcile us.
2) Seek Understanding
The scriptures encourage us to seek wisdom not justification. When society is broken, people protest, and injustice is done, we want to avoid it and not let it be attached to us. We get defensive and want to justify and explain how this could happen.
Instead we need to seek understanding. We need to understand the dynamics of a dominant and sub-dominant culture. We need to understand majority privilege and white privilege. We cannot write these things off blindly and without exploring them (I say this to everyone, but especially my white friends).
There is a lingering hurt, confusion and distrust and we must seek understanding, get wisdom, and pursue love.
3) Listen to Minority Friends and Leaders
The last few years have been a learning experience for me listening to minorities discuss being in a majority context, from friendships to our church staff, to my church community, and to leaders around the country and world.
We tend to listen only to those in our circles and assume that they can speak to every issue. We must listen to leaders from the diverse community that God has made, learn from them, be discipled and mentored by them.
I recommend listening to Carl Ellis’ talk from the Sojourn Network Conference on Mission and Race. It blew my mind and helped me tremendously in understanding the dynamics of sin, racism, and oppression.
4) Acknowledge and Repent of Wrong Thinking and Blindness
As you seek understanding and listen, reflect. Consider your wrong way of thinking and the blindness you have walked in. Allow the Spirit of God to convict you of wrong motivations and ways of thinking.
In the freedom of the gospel of Jesus Christ, where sin has been atoned for and the victory over sin won in the resurrection, live this freedom out. Acknowledge your errors and the errors of the church and culture.
Then repent. Confess your sins to God and turn from them to faith in Jesus.
5) Fight Injustice
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
He’s right and we must join the fight against every form of injustice. Christ came to bring justice, the restore the brokenness of our world by renewing hearts and minds, by paying for sin, and giving us the power of His Spirit to join His mission.
If you are in America, racial injustice is somewhere near you and racial reconciliation is needed. Beyond that, injustice of many kinds exists. May we become a people who live the gospel.
What Hope is there for Change?
This has been going on for so long and for many, hopelessness has set in. How can we believe there will be an end to this darkness and injustice?
The season of Advent remind us that in the midst a darkness has come a great light. Christ has come and He is setting up His kingdom through His people. A kingdom that is beautifully diverse, cherishing the various languages, cultures, and ethnicities that He created.
In the midst of the darkness we now see, we can be comforted by Psalm 23:4, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
Our God is with us, Jesus has come, and He will come again to make all things right. Come Lord Jesus! End the injustice!
5 recommendations for you as you respond to Racial Injustice.