Racism is a discipleship issue.
Justice is something that I am learning is essential to following Jesus. How to be a part of justice is also something I am learning.
What is happening right now is awful and part of a longer story of events that have happened for centuries.
What is happening is part of a long history of unrest, broken relationships, lack of justice, lack of change and too little humility.
I have been blogging through BLESS – a way to share faith in the midst of isolation and COVID.
The last “S” in BLESS is share your story. Today I am grieving and want to share part of how I respond today to the unrest and pain coming ablaze in MSP has everything to do to how I am learning to follow Jesus.
For many, the Good News is that Jesus died for my sins and I know that God loves me and I get to live with Him forever.
I believe that to be true. But it gets better.
Jesus doesn’t just love me. He loves everyone on the planet and as He lived on earth, He wasn’t just coming for the purpose of heading to the Cross and taking care of my individual sins.
Jesus found a scroll in the synagogue one day and found the following passage and read it.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
He said “today this has been fulfilled in your hearing,” and sat down.
He also came to give us life, and life to the fullest. (John 10:10)
He also came to bring light to a dark world. (John 1)
He came to destroy the works of the enemy (1 John 3:8).
Jesus came to model a new way to live. He came to form a new community. He taught, lived and gave us His Spirit so we can be empowered to follow Him and live as He did.
If I believe that, I have to respond to the events of this week in MSP, of the injustices of any week, with eyes like Jesus might have.
I do not pretend to know exactly what Jesus would say to everyone involved in all aspects of what is happening.
But I do know that He would be grieving. And mobilizing people to make changes. And hoping our hearts would become more like His.
Last Sunday, I preached about not repaying evil for evil (Romans 12). I talked about how Rosa Parks, although she was sitting in the seats set aside for blacks, was arrested for not giving up her seat to whites who boarded the bus after her.
Another part of the story: the bus driver that day was one Rosa knew. Previously she had met him. One day she boarded the bus through the front door, paid her fare and then left, to use the back door where blacks could board the bus. However the driver, like others in that time, drove off before Rosa could get on the bus.
Rosa still peacefully protested, despite all that had happened to her. Blacks rose up and boycotted the busses. They walked to work instead. Miles and miles of walking. One historian noted that this was a sacrifice for these workers who barely had adequate shoes for normal life, much less 20 mile daily walks to work.
And they respected the law enough to work to change it. Change it for justice and equality.
I have benefited from learning about her. How she responded to oppression in Montgomery Alabama and then how civil rights history was altered through her and others’ leadership.
I am responding today with prayers. Lament. Checking in with my friends affected by this. Reading Voyage of the Dawn Treader with my boys. Learning and reading everything I can. Looking to other leaders who are helping us know what to do, who to call, how to work for change.
Other ideas for you: check our denomination’s website for ideas:
Lord, Have Mercy.
King’s notion of nonviolence had six key principles. First, one can resist evil without resorting to violence. Second, nonviolence seeks to win the “friendship and understanding” of the opponent, not to humiliate him (King, Stride, 84). Third, evil itself, not the people committing evil acts, should be opposed. Fourth, those committed to nonviolence must be willing to suffer without retaliation as suffering itself can be redemptive. Fifth, nonviolent resistance avoids “external physical violence” and “internal violence of spirit” as well: “The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him” (King, Stride, 85). The resister should be motivated by love in the sense of the Greek word agape, which means “understanding,” or “redeeming good will for all men” (King, Stride, 86). The sixth principle is that the nonviolent resister must have a “deep faith in the future,” stemming from the conviction that “The universe is on the side of justice” (King, Stride, 88).