It has been 7 days since the death of George Floyd. I wish I could say that this is the first time something like this has happened, but it’s growing to become an all too common occurrence in our country. There are always 2 sides that we see when things like this happen. One side has a righteous and understandable anger at the oppression and injustice that has occurred and the other side has an all too removed vantage point of the actual oppression and injustice that has taken place. In the middle lies a giant chasm in which keeps the two sides from understanding each other.
I’ve been wondering what I can possibly do to stand with my brothers and sisters of color to help show them of God’s great love for them. A love that leaves the 99 to find the 1. Jesus traditionally sought after the people who were on the fringes of society, the marginalized, and dare I say the oppressed. Jesus showed up and listened to what they had to say, before he started healing them or meeting a physical or spiritual need. In Mark 10 we see him ask Bartimaeus (who was blind), “what do you want me to do for you?” and he sat back and actually listened to this man reply “Lord, I want to see.” Jesus was a true communicator. He got it.
This connection, just as with electric lines, is the fundamental necessity of communication. Without connection, exchange is impossible, no matter how high the voltage. But when the wires touch, energy crackles, and life begins to flow."
Have we become so isolated in this age of technology that we are so far removed from the voices of the oppressed? Do we care more about the 99 than the 1? It’s comfortable to stay with the flock, there is no denying that. But how can we show the love of Christ when we aren’t willing to be uncomfortable and go meet the marginalized and oppressed where they are at?
If we truly want to understand another persons anger, sadness, joy, excitement, doubt or any other emotion, we have to establish connection with them first. It takes being present and actively listening to their concerns before we can take a step in fixing anything. Will this be comfortable? No. Will there be a price to pay? Yes. The real question comes down to this; are you willing to pay that price for the sake of another? Philippians 2 gives us a very distinct response as to how we should answer this question.
Right now the interest of the others is to show them that we stand with them and not against them. Dr. Martin Luther King once said “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” This came from a letter that Dr. King wrote to pastors while he was in jail. Dr. King wanted equality and unity among all people. The last thing that Jesus prayed for before he went on trial is found in John 17. They call it the “High Priestly Prayer”. It says this:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
John 17: 20-23
How then are we able to accomplish this? Where can we even start? We have to look at Jesus to answer this. Jesus modeled this for us by leaving glory and coming to earth. John 1:14 says this, “The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” This is called incarnation. He didn’t simply show up once a week for an hour or two at a charity event. He didn’t give a few dollars towards charities that helped the marginalized. No, God put on flesh and came to meet us where we were at. He sought to understand us. He did this by talking to people and meeting what needs they had. This is something that He wants us to do and model for others as well. I’m not talking about “being Jesus to others”, for we can’t accomplish that. I’m talking about going and meeting them where they are at, just like Jesus did for us, so that we can point them to Christ where all hope and life is found.
There are so many people in this country that don’t understand why our brothers and sisters of color are feeling the way they do. We can’t understand it because we’ve never been there. We’ve never felt like they do.There is one reason for that. We haven’t entered into true communication with them about it. We are often blinded by our little view of the world and think that everyone should hold the same view. But we haven’t stepped into their world and asked them “what do you want me to do for you?”
I, for one, will no longer accept stagnant words and idle hands. It’s time that we as the church did something. I want to challenge my fellow pastors to step up to the plate here. We must go and stand with our brothers and sisters. We must step into their world and seek to understand where they are at, how this impacts them and how we can care for them. That is the place that change can occur, when we enter into dialogue instead of monologue. Jesus told us to carry each others burdens. Jesus tells us that “greater love has no one than this; to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Right now, our brothers and sisters are burdened by racism, injustice and oppression. Will we be able to cure all of this? No, not by ourselves we won’t. We must begin laying our lives down for them. Not that we can change anything alone. But we certainly know the One who can. His name is Jesus. It’s our job to bring everyone to Him so that He can produce in them a new life that offers an abundant hope and eternal glory!
Let today be the day that you begin to put others first.