You have, no doubt, made up your mind about the news before you read this post. If you’re like me, you may be tempted to let your political viewpoint or newsfeeds supply the narrative to support a preconception. But please bear with an aging, white, politically conservative, evangelical Christian for one moment and hear me through.
We cannot condone the violence we see in recent riots, but we can understand it. The people on the streets have no hope and for good reasons. A handcuffed black man dies with a policeman’s knee on his throat. An EMT dies in her own apartment due to a mishandled warrant. We maintain dreadfully short memories, but the list of race-based issues goes on, and it continues year by year. One fact is indisputable. Regardless of how we explain these tragedies to ourselves, none of these people deserved to die in these circumstances.
The Church says all the right things. We profess love for all people regardless of race. We appoint commissions and release statements of affirmation or sternly-worded condemnations. In the bible, Jeremiah called out false prophets, saying, “They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 8:11).
There is a substantial shortage of hope. In Proverbs, we read that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” If you are a Christian, you understand that hope is synonymous with Jesus. But what if we need Jesus in a dimension we have never before experienced? What if we need Jesus to provoke white, politically conservative, evangelical Christians to outrage at the persistent mistreatment of our brothers and sisters of color? We need Christians to speak loud enough that narratives that justify hate no longer find safe haven among Christ’s people. We need to voice peace, but rising up to a level that supersedes the superficially of the past.
How do we participate in meaningful peace?
- We speak up when we hear hateful, inflammatory speech. We reason with those who make broad categorizations of those who are different from us.
- We refuse to divide the world into black versus white, Republican versus Democrat, or any other mindless generalization that creates an “us versus them” mentality. In case you hadn’t realized it, this is the plan to divide and conquer our nation. Stop participating and stop listening to sources that encourage you to be a part of any divide.
- Lastly, Mr. President, please choose your words carefully. We rely on you to set a tone that will unite our country, not divide it. You will be held responsible for the impact of thoughtless words. “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37).