17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.
The reason I am posting this is because I woke up convicted. Well, really, I had been feeling convicted for awhile. I want to share in this post how I let that conviction change me and my heart, how I was given the words to express my feelings and understand them, and what I have come to understand and now live out as a result. When the Black Lives Matter movement started around 2013 I was relatively young (15) and I didn’t really understand at the time. Over the course of the next few years, as I got a little older and understood a little more, I was kind of bothered. I thought, all lives matter, not just black lives. Why are there signs saying this? But I never said or did anything. Now, with everything that is currently happening my conviction seemed to not only change, but grow stronger. I felt a heavy heart with all the hate and anger festering in America and other parts of the world, and now it was signs that said All Lives Matter that made me angry inside. Why did I feel anger in the first place? Why was my heart so troubled and my soul so uneasy? I knew I needed to give it to God. I also knew that I didn’t want to deny this conviction anymore, and that I wanted to educate myself so that I could release this burden and truly begin to change. So I started with a prayer, and then turned to the greatest source of wisdom I know: scripture.
June 6, 2020
Okay God. I feel your conviction. I am beginning to know Your voice and feel your presence in my life and You have made me feel this conviction in my heart about all the injustices happening right now. About all the people being killed, about all the hate and feuding brought up by race. I want to be educated, Lord. I want to know what to do and say and what my part to play is Lord. But I want Your wisdom, and I want to learn from Your word, and I want to act through Your Spirit and I want it all to be fueled by the Love of Jesus. Lord Help Me. You are sufficient!
So I began the search to see what scripture says about racial reconciliation. Ephesians 2:11-22 is a powerful summation of the massive reconciliation that was made possible and done by Jesus Christ sacrifice for all our sins. It tells of how the Jews and the Gentiles were reconciled through Christ. You have to understand, to be a Jew during this time meant you had access to God’s presence and if you were a Gentile (anyone not Jewish) that wasn’t really a possibility. Sure you could stand way outside the temple gates, or maybe in the courtyards at the very back but to be fully in God’s presence, to be that close, was for the Jews. Naturally, there was opposition and segregation, sadly, in regards to God’s presence. What a devastating injustice to deny people God. Paul writes how the Gentiles were, “foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). After thousands of years of war, oppression, racism, hatred, judgement, and bias we are left asking how can they ever be reconciled. The answer: Jesus.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
This is amazing. Christ died so that the walls of hostility could come down. So that the people in the back who felt discriminated, cheated, and unloved could be welcomed to the front. So that the ones who felt left out and wronged had a place at the table and were in. So that we could all be one. So that we could all be family. Aside from Christ already paying the price, Ephesians 2:11-22 isn’t a reality yet, it’s the goal. We haven’t reached that point. Even to this present day in America. We aren’t there yet. Why do we feel the need as people in the front, people in God’s presence, to hoard it for ourselves? With God, there is plenty of space and love to go around. Why are some of us so hesitant to let others come forward? Worse yet, when we should be helping them, we are killing them and rebuilding barriers. The injustice today in America is not denying people God like in this scripture, but denying others are made in the image of God, and therefore we don’t treat them how they deserve to be treated, with equality. Scripture tells us we are all one family, reconciled and restored by Christ. Why can’t we see that today? As Christians, we should be more willing to shine the love on those who feel unloved. When I see a cop, that’s my family. When I see a black man, that’s my family. When I see rich, poor, broken, successful; that’s my family. I love my family. I know everyone doesn’t see the world this way, and I know for certain that we don’t all treat each other this way. What I do know is that if any part of my family is being oppressed, killed, discriminated, or hated that I will stand with them and support them.
Black Lives Matter. When I say this people think that means I hate law enforcement, or I think that only black lives matter. Not true. Do I want change? Absolutely. Do I want peace? Absolutely. Do I appreciate the police that protect us? Absolutely. I don’t want people to think that this post is attacking police officers. Here’s the deal: All cops aren’t bad because some mess up, just like all protestors aren’t violate rioters. What that cop did to George Floyd wasn’t evil because he was in uniform, it was evil because he abused his power to kill another human being. That’s wrong. Floyd has been made a martyr and even been called a saint by some. I don’t agree with that because he is another human like you and me as well. But we can all agree that what happened to him was wrong and shouldn’t happen to people period. But it happens to black people a lot, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with using this massive injustice caught on camera to open people’s eyes to the faults in some of our systems in this country. So, when people say what about all these other people who have died recently, or why is no one talking about this or that it’s not that people don’t care about these things. It’s that people are focused on fixing and addressing a huge lack of justice for a group of people right now. Don’t get me wrong. Please mourn, post about people you care about on social media passing away or other problems in the world that you want to shine a spotlight on. Every lost life is tragic, regardless of how it happened. Every world problem is devastating. But in response to the Black Live Matters it is confrontational and undermining to the movement. I regard comments like these in the same light as all lives matter comments. I think that this point is important enough to provide two examples, one normal, and one biblical.
America is a dinner table. After white people have excused almost all Native Americans from the table they sit down at the dinner table ready to eat. The meal is made by black people who aren’t allowed at the table and are only given a few scraps of food. This goes on for a long time. Finally some people realize that this is wrong, and say, “black people should be able to sit at the table with us.” After fights and arguing black people end up getting a spot at the table. However, they still have no food but are happy to just be at the table at first. White people continue to eat their meals and over time, black people start to say, “We deserve food too.” White people ignore them. Every night they say, “We deserve food too.” Still, white people ignore them. Finally they say, “Black people deserve food too.” White people respond, “We all deserve food.” Black people raise their voices, “Black people deserve food too!” White people, “We all deserve food!”
Why are we so surprised then when black people start pounding their utensils, breaking dishes, and flipping the table? How many times, and for how long must they ask politely before we give them some food?
I have mixed feelings about the violence and the riots. I feel like I am not really for that, and the first thing I’ll add is that there are a lot of third parties that come in and take advantage of the movement to work their own agendas. That just needs to be understood. Not all vandalism, aggression, and rioting is by activists for the Black Lives Matter movement. However, there are a lot of supporters who are for it and even still there are some who are against it, but understand it. That’s where I am. I will never fully be able to understand where they are coming from but I can to some degree. A lot of it hinges on and is explained by the Martin Luther King Jr’s quote, “And I contend that the cry of ‘black power’ is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard.” Replace “black power” with “Black Lives Matter” and here we are. MLKJ was never an advocate for violence, but he understood why some would riot. Emmanual Acho also discusses this in Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man Ep. 1 (linked below) and brings up the point of this being one of the stages of grieving. He talked about how his mother, when she lost someone, was throwing herself against the wall in her pain and mourning. It was hurtful to herself but she just didn’t know how to respond, how to express the emotions she was feeling. We have a nation processing the recent and tragic deaths of people, as well as the feelings and responses to injustices they’ve suppressed. I think that we are in a time of very high emotions, and it is very easy for these emotions to be untethered to reason and become destructive rather than constructive. I am not trying to justify looting, rioting and vandalism. I do hope however you can at least understand where they may be coming from.
The other example is in scripture. It is Matthew 18: 10-14 and is called the parable of the wandering sheep.
10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. 11 “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”
12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
There is plenty of scripture that shows the kind of character Jesus had, and ultimately, as Christians, we should model our lives off of Jesus’. I try to think about how Jesus would respond during this time. What would his actions be? Jesus went out of his way for the marginalized, spent his time loving people who didn’t feel loved and made it clear he accepted those who didn’t feel accepted. I love the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18. I just want a society that matches these values that Jesus lived for. The Black Lives Matter movement is like the lost sheep looking for justice, and righteousness. Jesus going to help the one sheep doesn’t mean he loves the 99 sheep any less, or that they don’t matter. He just wants everyone to know they’re loved, and right now we can stand with Jesus in seeking justice for the one sheep. Even when you say in all sincerity, all lives matter, which I and everyone agrees with, it seems like you’re opposing black lives matter. When we say black lives matter we are saying we see you, lost and unheard sheep, and we want justice and righteousness for you, like we have.
With all that said, it’s clear there is a lot of disagreement with others and a lot of times right now that seems to be expressed through social media. I don’t have any problem with people doing that. But what irritates me is that people so easily forget that the comment they’re leaving is addressed to another human being. It’s easy to feel confident and assertive in your retorts and rejects to others behind a keyboard and screen, but we need to keep in mind that commenting on everyone’s post that you disagree with, and doing it in a very close minded and rude way, is only adding fuel to the fire and does nothing to work towards a solution. We let our frustration from disagreement take over, but “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:20). It’s important to express your opinion, but in healthy and productive ways and not in ways that exhaust you and/or the situation. Proverbs 15:1 says it well, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a hard word stirs up anger”. Don’t use your words to stir up anger, don’t go picking fights, but respond and state humbly your opinion. Let’s use our voice on social media to be a place of education, open mindedness, and ideally, positive discussion so that we can focus on change and growth as individuals and as a community.
I started this quest seeking truth and wisdom, and relief for my aching heart. I turned first to God, and His word. I let Him set the foundation for my understanding and stance on all of this. However, I also looked into so many other sources. I tried my best to educate myself as much as possible. I found material that claims white privilege is a myth, or that there’s no such thing as systemic racism. I have read plenty of material that says the opposite. I have talked to family friends who have a member serving in law enforcement, I have talked to friends that are people of color, black, Christian and non-Christian. I have talked to my Uncle who is a Christian working in law enforcement. Some people say they have experienced racism, others say they haven’t. Some say they can’t get behind Black Lives Matter because they are procop. Some people say they can’t support law enforcement because they are standing for Black Lives Matter. What they all said though was, they were all fine with change, and wanted peace.
I could sit here and spew out all the facts I have found to support either side, or I could type up an exhaustive list of every single testimony and look at which side of the line they fall on, but at the end of the day I think all of us, including myself, just want people to love one another. We want to be respected, loved, and accepted and I truly believe that it is going to take radical love by all of us to make that happen. We can educate ourselves all day, consume all the social media out there, and keep ourselves up to date on the latest news but it will require living out a transformational love like Jesus to truly make an impact. As Bob Goff says in his devotional Live in Grace, Walk in Love, “The people with the greatest love, not the most information, will influence us to change” (LIG WIL, 194). It is not enough to recognize the marginalized and the lines of division separating groups of people. We need to move into the margin, erase the separation through active acceptance, acknowledging where we are as individuals, and start seeing each other the way God intended, as family.
Scripture tells us in James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” We too easily become polluted by the world through selfish agendas, lies on social media, political pursuits, etc. so much so that we get caught up in being right, and forget to look after the orphans and widows. Or our vision gets so distorted by the world’s pollution that we can’t see sin rooting itself in us. “Orphans” and “Widows” are people who need a family and are hurting. Right now, black people need us to stand by their side. Even if we say, there’s no facts, or at least not enough to show that there is systemic racism, or white privilege it doesn’t negate or change the very real cries of help coming from black people in our country. Who are we as Christians, and fellow Americans to say that it’s not real for them? Wouldn’t we be foolish not to look into the matter and help? We cannot deny the very real emotions connected to experiences. However, I do believe that there is evidence, and there are flaws in our system. We live in a broken world and that’s a truth we need to understand. But that’s no excuse not to help those in need and pursue change.
I want to end on what this whole endeavor has taught me, how it has left me changed, and what happens next. Like I said, I came into this uneducated, and with a deeply troubled heart. I was so scared of being called a racist, I chose to hide in ignorance for so long. In 1 Peter 4:1-2 it says, “Whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” I realized that my internal struggle and suffering was a spiritual battle between my sin nature and the Spirit God’s given me. I really had to dig deep and ask why is all this clamping so hard on my heart. It became so clear through God’s grace that it was my white privilege pushing back. It was the enemy and sin nature that had rooted itself, disguising itself as normalcy, in my heart. I was uprooting this thing that for so long I thought was a part of me and what I was feeling was the cry of all that being brought to the light. But when I finally let go of my biases, let go of pride, and let in humility and God’s love it was like a breath of fresh air brought by the Holy Spirit. My heart was liberated.
If you know me, then you know I’m not very political, or one to usually state my political views on the internet. But this is beyond politics. This is a heart posture problem. This is a human problem. I would be lying if I said now I have all the answers and my work is done. The truth is this internal revelation was really just the beginning. I also don’t claim to know all the stats and facts out there, but I hope that this helps convince people there is a problem, and that sometimes all you need as confirmation of that is the twinge in your heart, and the tug on your soul. Lean into that. Please do not sweep your conviction under the rug. Dig into and ask yourself why you might be feeling that way. I don’t have all the answers, and I’m not asking you to have them either. A big step to finding a solution is doing the inner work in yourself first. I took the time to self reflect, process and mull over the emotions I was feeling, and really examined my heart and myself. That’s what I’m asking you to do. I’m striving to be someone who listens to that still voice in my heart, listens to the Holy Spirit and engages it, lets it teach me, and God willing, change me. We cannot be content to ignore the problem, or retreat back into our bubble due to fear of change and exposure. As Christians, we work in the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21) and I believe that means in these times that we stand by the people who need to be reconciled. That means that we do what we can to fix the systems, but also address the spiritual evils involved in those systems and in our own hearts. I know my writing a blog isn’t going to solve the problem, but I hope maybe my words can help people understand, or put into words the struggle they feel in their own heart. All of this has given me the confidence to stand with people and overcome a war in my heart, despite the conflict that it may cause between family and friends, a say with confidence and pride, BLACK LIVES MATTER.
Please, if you disagree or have any questions or concerns bring them to me. I’m learning and seeking the truth and trying to find ways to help and get involved. If you have information that you want me to read, I’d be more than happy. If you want to share opportunities or different viewpoints, I’m all ears. Let’s talk, because that is part of how we are going to find reconciliation. Then let’s take positive and constructive action! As always, much love.
I have listed below a bunch of sources I used in composing this. Not all are listed, only the main ones. They aren’t really in any particular order, and they vary from a few minutes to over an hour, from biblical teachings to movies to articles. I will say the first three I found to be relatively short (all around ten or so minutes) and very impactful.
Ways to Support: