Black Lives, the Gospel, and Truth – They All Matter
Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world….. Red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight…… Jesus loves the little children of the world. I remember singing this song in Vacation Bible School as a young child. In a world that had come so far, but yet had so much further to go, we sang about the equality of all mankind – the "Imago Dei" of the Bible. That is, even as children, we understood that we were all created in the image of God. We understood that we were all a part of God's beautiful creation and that as human beings we were all a part of God's crown jewel in that creation. We knew the Genesis 1 account of creation, an account which reminds us that what God saw after creating mankind completely changed the entire dynamic of the world. God saw what He had created and said that it was VERY GOOD. I remember the Racial Reconciliation Rally held at the Little Rock Amphitheater in 1997, and I remember watching a crowd full of all different ethnicities singing DC Talk's "Colored People."…… Pardon me, your epidermis is showing, I couldn't help but note your shade of melanin…. I tip my hat to the colorful arrangement cause' I see the beauty in the tones of our skin…… I could go all day…….. But I won't…. We had come such a long way as a diverse nation. But my, how we have digressed.
The latest events that have unfolded remind us that racial tension still exists, and the need for reconciliation has still not been fully met. Though we have come a long way since the segregated country we once were, it is clear that we still have a long way to go. So, in the midst of the tension, how do we respond as believers? Of course black lives matter, but what about white lives? Mexican lives? Russian lives? Indian lives? We could go on….. and on…… and on. Is the BLM movement trying to imply that all lives don't matter? Should we say "all lives matter?" Should we post pictures of the cross saying Jesus settled the dispute? Was there ever really a dispute? Is this really that big of a deal?? Forgive me for all of the questions, but this whole thing has become a really big mess.
By now everybody is familiar with the BLM movement, and understands what it's all about. But just to make sure we all really understand what it's all about, let me clarify – In general it is not about black people being SUPERIOR to white people, it is about black people NOT being INFERIOR to white people. #blacklivesmatter is not meant to communicate that ONLY black lives matter, it is just meant to communicate that black lives DO matter….. and they do! Do all lives matter? Absolutely they do, but saying #alllivesmatter is like a slap in the face to someone who feels that they are being treated like they don't matter. I mean think about it, if I wanted to create a movement that said #Alabamafansareobnoxious, it wouldn't mean that auburn fans weren't right? Haha, ok – you get my point – just because #hogfansmatter doesn't mean that LSU fans don't, well maybe….. Nevermind……. Moving on!
And for me, I get it. I have very close friends that are black, and so I understand their frustration. It is a very difficult thing to feel like you are being stripped of your God-given dignity and being made to feel inferior to a superior race is pretty dehumanizing. It's called oppression and the Bible speaks very clearly about standing up for and defending the oppressed. And before you talk about how THEY are not treated any different from you my white friend, let me make sure you understand this – you don't know. You've never been black, and you have not been all over this country. I feel confident that if there was absolutely no reason for them to feel like they are inferior, then this would not be such a big issue. I'm sure that there are some white officers somewhere treating some black men/women somewhere like they are inferior. And if that's the case then they have every reason to be upset. I mean, wouldn't you be?
You say, but all these men that are the so-called victims are violent criminals. I would say, that might be the case…. but how do you know that? How do you really know what went on in that car? How do you know what the motives were of the individuals that were killed? From a picture? I'm sure we've all seen the picture of Alton Sterling holding the guns with his kids by now, right? It certainly doesn't look like he was much of a family man…. And of course they say a picture is worth 1,000 words, and maybe it is….. But 1,000 words can never tell someone's full story. I don't know the man's full story, and I'm not taking up for him. I don't claim to know his character. But I do know this – I don't know where he was at in his life when that picture was taken, and he very well could have been at the lowest point in his life. But here's what I know about the lowest point in my life – if somebody were to take a snapshot of me at that point, I wouldn't look like a very good "family man" either. Thankfully, the Bible tells me in Romans 5:8 that it was AT THAT POINT that Christ loved me enough to give His life for me. That's right, at my lowest point, my life mattered to Jesus. It mattered to Him so much that he willingly died on the cross for my sins! So, before you go judging someone off of a picture that you saw on the internet, realize this – this man had a family and that family will never see their loved one again. Where were you at your lowest point? Isn't it good to know that even at our lowest point our life still matters? If it doesn't matter to anybody else, it matters to God!
With that being said, I don't believe protesting, blocking streets, or killing innocent men is the answer. Just like there are things I might not understand or appreciate as a white man, there are certainly things none of us (including the protesters) can know when it comes to these scenarios. I mean what's the point? How many other black lives could you be impacting negatively by blocking the streets? If you are causing more harm to the people you are trying to protect doesn't it defeat the purpose? Stories have already surfaced of such scenarios. And how can you know the motive or intent of any officer's heart? How is protesting against a general idea that is not universal among the people you are protesting against going to accomplish anything? The reality is these are all questions that nobody can answer but God. The reality is that injustice is a part of life, and the only one that can really bring justice is Him. He knows the motives of the men you protest against, He knows the heart of those who oppress you, He knows it all. It's obvious that we live in a broken world; babies are being killed, the poor are being oppressed, freedoms are being stripped – the world is in desperate need of redemption. However, violence is not the answer. Illegal protests are not the answer. Killing is certainly not the answer. The only valid answer for justice in a wicked world is to turn to the one who is forever just, forever righteous, and forever true. He is the one that will bring redemption to this corrupt world, and will one day put the broken pieces back together forevermore.
That brings me to my final thought…. Black lives do matter, white lives do matter, all lives do matter….. But you know what else matters? The choices we make. All of our choices matter – what we choose to say, how we choose to say it, what we stand for, what we stand against, how we stand, it all matters. Who we elect to lead our country matters, the posts we put on FB matters, whether we choose to chase the pikachu or the jigglypuff…… Ok, that really doesn't matter……… But the rest of our choices really do matter! But the reality is that there is a much larger choice that matters; it's not what we put on FB, it's not what we say or how we say it; though all of that matters…… The most important choice of our life is one with eternal ramifications. It is a choice of whether or not we will follow Jesus. And if we choose yes to that, then the rest of these distinctions are really irrelevant!
If we follow Jesus then we believe that there is a special place in God's heart for the oppressed. If we follow Jesus then we believe in the Imago Dei, and understand that all nationalities are a part of God's most valuable part of creation. If we follow Jesus then we know and understand that the world will know us by our love. And most importantly, if we follow Jesus then we realize that the most important distinction is not found in race, gender, or socioeconomic status; but is found in the spiritual state of the soul. That distinction is not meant to divide and oppose, it is an invitation for us as believers to bridge and connect. Thank God for the gospel of Christ that bridges the divide between sinful man and holy God, reminds us of God's love for all mankind, and levels out the ground at the foot of the cross. As for me, I will continue to pray for the oppressed, I will continue to stand for the truth, and most importantly; I will continue to preach this GOSPEL!