Over the past few weeks it seems like our world has been consumed with the recent events of the death of George Floyd and the ensuing Black Lives Matter movement. We recall the images of Floyd’s last moments and the ensuing violence and anger with horror and sadness. There's been so much written and published in the aftermath, that it can feel overwhelming. Perhaps these three principles from the Bible will help us navigate going forward?
Have compassion for our family
In Romans 12:15, the apostle Paul says “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.” As Christians, it is really important that we listen to our brothers and sisters who are deeply affected by these events and that we feel their pain. The #1suffersallsuffer campaign that we ran as a Cornerstone just a few weeks ago demonstrated this, as we sought to raise money for the persecuted church around the world. When Christians are hurting, we, as their family in Christ, must ensure they know that we love, support and encourage them in these times, both at home and abroad.
Something has gone wrong if we become calloused to these things and, in order to win an argument, we forget the pain of those around us. We must feel in these times; remembering that our Lord Jesus was one that empathised with those who were in deep grief. Consider Him at the graveside of His friend Lazarus. How does He respond? He weeps. You may not agree with people’s assessment of the situation, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respond in a gracious and merciful way that makes our fellow Christians feel loved and understood.
Be patient as we wait on the God of truth and justice
I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.”
Revelation 6: 10-11
They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.
People have been crying so angrily for instant justice. One reason for this may be because they lack the framework of an ultimate judgement to come. The angry scream for justice, and justice now, is in danger of overlooking truth and facts in its haste, which then skews what justice actually is. For Christians, the good news is that we serve a God who is totally committed to seeing justice being done. And, because He is the God of truth, that justice will be totally correct. Therefore, as Christians, we need to look to God in times of injustice; in the knowledge that He is God the Just. He will judge the world on Judgement Day for every act of injustice. We must turn to Him in these times and ask that justice will be done. We also have the added comfort that, although our justice systems may be flawed in this world, God will certainly make sure that it is delivered on that final day. Justice can never be done instantly. We must wait patiently for it to be met.
Reflect and speak out
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and walk humbly with God.
Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.
Proverbs 31: 8-9
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Whenever we see very clear expressions of sin (like the actions of the police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck) it is an opportunity for us to consider our own hearts. Although we don’t like to admit such things, Jesus identifies the human heart as a sin factory. And so, we must be introspective and identify where we also fall short in the areas we’ve seen in others. This doesn’t mean that you have to dwell on being guilty, or that you have to apologise for your skin colour or the actions of your ancestors. It does mean we recognise that the world is full of sin, our hearts are full of sin, and that we want to erase such thoughts, desires and actions from our own lives.
As Christians, it also means that we are able to call out sin for what it is. We can speak out when we see public acts of sin. We can say when there is inequality and injustice in our society. This doesn’t mean that we must signal our virtue somehow on social media. In fact, you don’t have to post anything at all. We can, however, personally identify injustice and have conversations with the people in our lives to address these issues in society. When we remember the death of George Floyd we can actively say that it was wrong. When we hear of persecuted peoples around the world, we can raise awareness of these horrors. When we are informed that 200,000 babies were aborted in the last year, we can lament and call for change.
We need to look at Jesus in times of injustice
It is absolutely vital that we keep Christ central in the way we respond to injustice. The world has all sorts of answers and ways that it will try to achieve justice, but it can never fully do so. Only Jesus can. He is the only answer for injustice, for inequality, for the sin that is responsible for such tragedies. He is the one who came to do something about it. In fact, Jesus went through the worst injustice because as 1 Peter 2:22 says, “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” Yet, his persecutors nailed Him to a cross of wood and hurled insults at Him.
The innocent one was crucified for sins He did not commit; it doesn’t get more unjust than that. Yet, He was doing it to bring a new world of complete, perfect justice for all those who trust in Him. When we are responding to injustice let us, as Christians, preach Christ and Him crucified to bring about real justice. Below is a post from my father, which does this. In all that is going on in the world, my dad wants to preach Christ as the salve that will heal people’s hurt. Maybe you will enjoy reading.
Black lives matter and I need to listen. Yet there is one person who gets black people perfectly and yet he is not black. The Bible never tells us the colour of his skin but it does reveal his life.
Jesus was born in terrible poverty among the muck of animals. Jesus was threatened with murder by a power hungry king who loved himself. Jesus lived as a refugee in another country as he had to flee the murderous king. Jesus lived in a town that had the reputation that 'nothing good ever came from there'. Jesus was an essential low paid worker as a builder repairing houses. Jesus became a homeless man who went around teaching and needed the material support of others. Jesus was hated by his culture even though he did much good work for needy people. Jesus was hated because of the minorities he reached out to. Jesus endured the blackest day ever in history. Jesus became the minority of one as he was crucified on the cross in cruel brutal injustice. Jesus took the knee on his neck as he was nailed to the cross by Roman soldiers. Jesus had no one to protest the injustice as he died as the perfectly righteous one. Jesus did not even have the presence of God. Jesus was truly the minority of one in the world.
Jesus does listen to the cries for justice and the protest against all injustice. Jesus did not just come to identify with oppressed people. Jesus came to deal with the ultimate oppression that is destroying all humans. Jesus came to deal with sin and then to lead a redeemed humanity out of rebellion to live his way. Jesus one day will return in awesome social and moral justice. Jesus will eradicate all wrong and put right every wrong. Jesus will bring a humanity from diverse cultures who are gloriously holy and happy to submit to him. Jesus will bring about the racial harmony so beautiful to him. Jesus then commands his people to share the good news with all people including black people. Jesus commands the church to repent of all prejudice and display oneness in him as each person is saved by his sacrificial grace. Jesus has only one gospel and no other. All lives matter and so black lives matter. Jesus matters most of all.
Written by Rory Kinnaird