Racism at its core is a spiritual issue. Every human being, of every tongue and tribe, has been handcrafted by our Almighty Creator, knit together in their mother's womb. All have equal value, a God given purpose and are stamped with His image. Consequently, whenever a person or people group is treated as less than equal, when they are abused, oppressed or treated unjustly, it is an affront to God and an attack on the individuals He loves. As Jesus introduced His earthly ministry in Luke 4, He notes that an important part of His ministry would be to lift up the oppressed, heal the hurting and undo the abuse that had been leveraged against so many by the Enemy and the flawed systems of a fallen world. Ultimately, Jesus gave His life on the cross to redeem those oppressed by their own sin. But scripture is clear, racism is a spiritual issue and when it emerges it needs to be confronted and corrected.
The events of the last few days have sickened most of us. We have seen the sin. The needless death of a handcuffed George Floyd at the knee of a smug, rogue, Minneapolis police officer. That senseless act unleashed a storehouse of pent up fear, resentment and anger from the deepest recesses of the lives of many African Americans. Another friend, another family member, another person of color taken. And to complicate things, their rightful, legitimate cries for justice have been hijacked by professional agitators, or those seeking political gain or maybe a couple rioters set on pilfering a case of beer from a crumbling convenience store. Whatever the case, hate has been confronted with more hate. Darkness with more darkness. Sin with more sin. Our country is burning. And now, more than ever, God's people need to respond. Why? Because its a spiritual issue that requires spiritual solutions.
So how should God's people respond? Facebook posts are popular. Flares of righteous indignation here and there. But we've seen this before after similar acts of injustice. A burst of reaction and then silence. The evangelical church, which was so quick to respond to the CoVid pandemic, has for too long ignored the scourge of racism ravaging our land. It's time to stand and represent God's Kingdom. It's time to rip off our bushel baskets of indifference and let God's light and love shine into the darkness through His pe
ople. It's time to stop writing about the need for change and actually start leading change in our congregations and communities.
Converge Rocky Mountain churches state clearly that we are a movement that values cultural diversity. "
Advancing Christ’s destiny for his church—a church that reflects the beauty and synergy of worshipers from all peoples and cultures." So how do we realize this value?
First, we must pray
. Alone, as congregations or as a movement we must seek the heart and will of God on matters of racial inequality. Because we are sometimes blinded to our own prejudices, we must invite His spirit to reveal any wicked or wayward thought patterns in us and repent of the sin that is revealed. We must ask God to break our hearts over the things that break His heart. To enable us to see the ugliness of racism and its suffocating impact on so many people. And through unceasing prayer we need to ask God to unite us and empower us to be the change agents He has called us to be.
we must increase our awareness
of the issues tied to racism. A year ago I was able to tour the African American Museum in Washington DC. The lowest floors dealt with the rise of slavery in the US. The rocks where slaves stood to be bid on. The tiny cabins where they were housed in cages. With every exhibit I learned more. Truth that crushed me, but truth that built within me a better understanding of why some things continue to be so hurtful to people of color today.
If we have remained silent, if we have kept the issue of racism at a safe distance, we may not know all the things we need to know to respond properly. So as pastors and as laypeople we need to utilize credible sources to get up to speed on the problems at hand.
- Talk to people and pastors of color. Learn about their traditions, their triumphs and their challenges. Invite pastors that look different from you to share your pulpit or join your congregations for an community compassion project, church picnic, or mission trip experience.
- Invite a cultural congregation to use your building for their services. Provide hands-on support and assistance and do ministry together.
- Utilize a good Diversity coach to steer you towards helpful training materials. There are several good books on the subject that will challenge your thinking and shape your understanding. We will compile a list and post it on the web page.Together To Transform 2020 focused on learning about and celebrating Biblical diversity. A good place to start on building diversity awareness is Dr. Ruben Rivera's Shalom seminar or Dr. Harold Lewis' breakout on biblical diversity. Dr. Michael Henderson also provided incredible insight and motivation through his two keynote talks. Click the links below to access this great training.
Third, we must call God's people to action
. To be ready to respond when God reveals a need. Friends of ours are creating a pop up pantry in Minneapolis. A food bank to provide help for victims who lost everything when the
predominantly African American
"Phillips" neighborhood was burned down last week. Multicultural prayer gatherings are being planned around our region. Praying as one, for God to heal our land. Soon Converge churches across the country will be sending financial help and other practical resources to assist victims of violence in the Twin Cities. Details of how your church can help will be sent out on 6/2/2020.
Here in the Rockies, Rev.
Sims, Living Hope Bible Church, has called all Converge Rocky Mountain pastors to join with him and other pastors of color or denominations, for a peaceful, Christian rally in downtown Denver. The details are being finalized this week and will be dispersed to our churches as soon as possible. The purpose is not political, it's redemptive. God's people, united, standing against hate and disbursing Divine light throughout the darkness. Ultimately pointing people to Jesus, and the life giving ways of God's Kingdom.
Last week I called Rev. Sims. I wanted to share how my heart hurt for him and his congregation. Rev. Sims thanked me and then he said, "I've changed my message for this Sunday. This Sunday I'm going to preach on Matthew 5. I'm going to remind our congregation that God calls us to love our enemies and those who persecute us...just like Jesus did when he was attacked. Hate and rage won't change anything. But love, God's love, will change everything." What an example Pastor Sims and his congregation set for all of us. To live as change-agents for peace.
Let's follow their example. Let's follow Christ's example. Let's not just talk about change, but actually lead change. Let's find a million different ways to carry on Jesus' mission to lift up the oppressed, heal the wounded and confront racial injustice whenever we see it. Let's let God's light and love shine through us and provide spiritual answers to the spiritual problem of racism. Let's be the light that points people home to the family of God.