I’ve waited till now for any sort of post like this, not because I’ve been unsure of my stance, or afraid of what anyone would think, but because of caution and care. I care for my family, for the church I shepherd, for my fellow human, and most importantly for God and the integrity of the Bible, which is God’s Word.
The world as a whole is in turmoil. Clearly. The country is in upheaval. The state I live in is reeling and feeling the pain. I hate what I see.
I hate racism. I hate the police hating. I hate that Christians can sometimes be more fluent in politics than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I’m aware that I know far less than I should about the issues at hand, primarily the systemic racism that is prevalent in many states and cities of our nation. Who are we kidding? Even a little is far too much. I’m trying to do something about this in my own heart. I’m reading what I can, asking what I can and trying to listen to the right voices and hear the perspective of others that will feed my heart to love justice and peace more, not just the way the world sees it, but the way God, who is supreme, defines it.
Let me go on record and say that most definitely and most assuredly Black lives do matter. Of course they do. Do I understand it completely from the vantage point of what has clearly been a more privileged life than some? Not fully. I’m not rich. Never have been. But most of you can see by now that you don’t have to be rich to be privileged. It just means you got a head start in life, even if not by your own choice.
But the God whom I serve is the Creator of all life, all humans, all colors, tribes, and nations, and HE has spoken the final word on the issue. So as I observe, and pray, and preach, and help lead a church body, I return to this truth, that God created all men and women in His image and likeness and are therefore equally valued, loves, held in high regard as the pinnacle of His creation. Black lives matter because God is beautiful and a genius Creator.
I say all of this first because I can see that it needs to be said right now. But now let me say this, that as a follower of Jesus Christ, I value every life, all life, from the unborn to the grave. I must. Those who devalue any human life do not truly love God, nor do they understand what life actually is; a gift of grace, not a right we’ve earned. So if this is you, no matter the color of your skin, stop pretending that you love God while you tear others down.
The protests, I mean the peaceful ones, are beautiful when done with a motivation of spreading awareness, education, and crying out to be heard. But the violence is shameful, because, again, it degrades human life in the worst way, by inflicting harm on image-bearers of God. The death of George Floyd, that sparked the recent upheaval, was evil. No matter what his life was up to that moment, that was not justice, and his murderers should be punished.
I also value the police who ARE upright and who seek to protect human life at the cost of their own and their families. We should all do that. God’s Word demands that we do this from an understanding that He puts earthly authorities at their posts for the good of all. Anyone who abuses these positions of authority is not representing the office well and should be deposed and tried. But their actions are not the actions of all.
So what does it mean to love justice? I think we cannot fully understand this without the knowledge of the Gospel. Yes, people are crying out for justice when they see evils being done. But all of these groanings should be a sign to humanity that the longing of the human heart for justice and peace cannot be fully satisfied in a world that is fractured by the sinfulness of man. God is just. Not man. God is the one who justifies the ungodly by the grace of His Son Jesus. He understands injustice because his perfect and sinless Son who deserved no wrong, His only Son was mocked, spit on, shamed, beaten, cursed at, and crucified by his own creation. That’s a cosmic sin. And yet, Jesus said, “Forgive them, they don’t really know what they’re doing.”
So what’s the answer? Repentance from sin, and faith in Christ. That’s how a man or woman can begin to see others rightly. It’s the only way. When we realize that a perfect God, who, by the way, is not like any of us, could love us when we were his enemies, die for us on the cross in order to absorb and absolve the wrath and the punishment we deserved for our sins, and give us his righteousness instead, then and only then can our eyes be opened to true justice and true and abiding peace.
Who are the true enemies here? Sin. Selfishness. Self-righteousness that tries to self-justify our hateful and heinous actions apart from the grace of God. Our nation doesn’t need to de-fund the police, or elect the perfect president (there isn’t one who can fix this), or to violently rally in the streets causing more harm than good! Our nation, each one of us, needs to take the log out of our own eye before trying to remove the splinter from someone else’s. We need to do this, not only because of the reality of racism, corrupt authorities, and corrupt governments, but because one day we will ALL stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account. We need repentance and the love of God. We need to take the Gospel to our neighbor and our enemies, whoever that is, and lovingly demonstrate the hope that Jesus alone offers to a dying and broken world.
Written by Joel Littlefield
Featured image by James Eades