A few words about Injustice: Listen. Learn. Love.
On behalf of the elders I want to briefly address the current social tensions we are experiencing in our community. These kinds of injustices are not new and every generation of Christian must decide how they will seek to restore the justice of God as the Scriptures calls us to do. Some helpful insights from Tim Keller about the meaning of Biblical justice can be found here.
It goes without saying that our world is broken and full of injustice. As leaders in our homes and pastors in this church, we work hard discern what injustices to address, when to address them, and even how. Rather than hastily post our reactions on social media, as our world is prone to do, we feel it is important to be slow and deliberate in our responses so as to be helpful to those in our care.
As you well know by now, one week ago, a man named George Floyd was unjustly killed by police officers in Minnesota. The mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey said it well, “All I keep coming back to is this: this man should not have died. What we saw is horrible. Completely and utterly messed up. The man’s life matters. He matters. He was someone's son. Someone’s family member. Someone’s friend. He was a human being and his life mattered.” There is video footage of this tragedy. It is heartbreaking and unbearable to watch as a man is killed on camera while people begged the police to stop. The four officers involved have been fired, and the one officer responsible for George Floyd’s death has been arrested and charged with murder. There is much to grieve in this moment. I know I speak for the elders when I say, we all grieve for this family, we grieve for the impact on police officers everywhere, and we grieve for our brothers and sisters across the nation who often fear for their lives because of their ethnicity.
Racism is evil. Most commonly, racism is defined as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed toward a person, or people, of a different race or ethnicity based on the belief of one’s racial superiority. The history of racism in our nation is well documented and even though many conditions have changed, the conversation seems unchanged. Simply, racism persists in America. The current tensions we see are not new, but we must renew our efforts to serve as the ministers of reconciliation God has called us to be. Our responsibility as elders is not to dictate how one should engage in social justice, rather, to help our church understand what the Bible says about issues of race and equip them for the ministry. Even though we often speak about our differences, biblical speaking, the Bible teaches us several things about our similarities:
- We have the same God: We were all created by the same God. All men and women were created equal as image bearers of God. Although we see distinct ethnicities form in the biblical narrative, from the beginning, there has only ever been one race.
- We have the same parents: We were all descended from the same parents. In a very real sense, we are all part of one family that began generations ago.
- We have the same love: We are all loved by a God who does not show partiality to genders, ethnicities, or social conditions. Jesus’ ministry showed this love as he ministered to Jews, Gentiles, and Samaritans and called his people to love whomever the world might identity as “least of these.”
- We have the same invitation: We are all equally invited to salvation in Christ. Jesus does not show partiality in his call, rather, he desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth.
- We have the same destiny: We are all destined to be part of a diverse body of people in heaven, made up every nation and tongue. God plans for all people of every tongue to be unified in one body and worship with one voice.
- We have the same mission: We are all participants in God’s mission of redemption. We are called ambassadors and ministers who carry a message of reconciliation to a sinful world. It could be said that the people cannot be reconciled without the active participation of the church.
It is hard to know what we can do practically to confront this crisis and navigate the ensuing chaos. But there are some simple steps we can all take. The first thing we can do is LISTEN. This requires humility as we, potentially, come face to face with our ignorance or indifference. We must listen to authors who write and speakers who teach about these issues, but most importantly, we must listen our neighbors who live in this tension. Listening requires some silence. Second, we must LEARN. It is not enough to listen if we are not learning from what we are told. Learning implies understanding which naturally brings with it growth and change. Learning usually requires some un-learning which can be painful but sanctifying. Learning requires some self-reflection. Finally, we must LOVE. There are many things we can do, but if we lack love then they are all meaningless. Sometimes love means speaking. Sometimes love means listening. Sometimes love means defending. Sometimes love means confronting. All the time, love means praying. Loving requires some action.
Even if these issues seem foreign to you right now, let us not forget that we have people in our own church family dealing with these difficult issues firsthand. There are families who will experience bigotry because of the color of their skin, and there are families who will experience discrimination because their husbands are police officers. Apart from whatever else might be needed in our community, we know our friends need our love and support right now.
As we fulfill our mission for reconciliation in our broken world, may we all continue to long for the return of the Lord Jesus who will remove sin once and for all, make all things new. We look forward to the day when these words from Revelation become a reality: "After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev 7.9-10).
Until then, the elders and staff will make an effort to provide you tools and resources to help you fulfill the ministry you’ve received relative to injustice.