Minneapolis is burning. More black bodies are on the ground. Justice is not being served. Distrust, anger, and fear fill the air. The unrelenting, indefensible racial injustice is mind-boggling. For some. For others, nothing has actually changed. Their reality has just gone viral. Combine that with nothing to distract us and it seems like new segments of our culture want to turn a corner, press into the reality of this nightmare, and perhaps offer a better future to our children.
The skeptic in me wonders if the outrage will pass with the next news cycle. Will people post so passionately about racial injustice when they can watch football again? Will we invest time in discovering the pervasive pain of a racialized reality that many cannot escape from – when we can invest time discovering the next great all-inclusive resort to escape to? I’m hopeful we will.
Many are asking – what can we do? How can we help? What can we do to change this mess? As a humbled learner, I would like to offer a few suggestions for Christians in the majority culture to consider as a starting place.
Be humble or be humbled
Please recognize that while the desire to help, fix, change the current situation is most likely a good desire, it is also mixed with arrogance. One of my black friends gently exposed this to me. She pointedly asked, “why do you think things can change because you’re involved now?”
We must recognize that many people who are smarter, more dedicated, and more faithful – have gone before us. This is not a new situation. Many of us are just new to the conversation. We must be willing to learn our place in the conversation. Which may be serving the table, not sitting at it.
Take in what God breathed out
Search through and pray the Scriptures. Ask God to open your eyes to see His heart for the poor and the marginalized. Pray God’s Word and let God soften and transform your heart. Pray through Psalm 10, Psalm 82, Micah 6, Amos 5. My goodness, especially Amos 5. Does your desire to worship in a church building match your desire to work for justice in the streets?
Support black churches and churches serving in marginalized communities. With all of my heart, I believe that a robust application and demonstration of the gospel through the local church for the glory of God is the hope of the world. There are faithful men and women of color anonymously pouring out their lives to care for a traumatized community. As a white man, I cannot fully understand their experience. My ability to help will be limited. But not eliminated.
Consider what Dave Chappelle said in his stand-up special “Equanimity.”
“When I read that letter, in the moments after I read it, I did something that many black men in America do not have the time or the money to do: I thought about how I felt.”
I can support black pastors in ways that empower them to care for people in ways I cannot. Did you know that many pastors serving in the most under-resourced areas do so for free? These community pillars work multiple jobs in order to shepherd people without requiring a salary. Can you imagine working third shift all week, raising a family, feeling traumatized, counseling people, and preparing to preach a sermon to a video camera on Sunday? When you don’t have a tech team?
That situation is not uncommon in the black church. But don’t pity them. Honor them. Be inspired. Learn from them. Recognize the strength, dignity, and supernatural perseverance God is granting these leaders to honor Him by feeding His sheep. Consider ways that you can support them so that they can have a minute to think about how they feel.
Delight yourself in the Gospel
Empowered by the Spirit of God, we can joyfully take these steps. Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords knew what His place was in every conversation. Yet, He laid down His privilege to invite us to His table – so that He could serve us. He washed the feet of His followers, demonstrating that He would scrub the stains off of our souls. He became our sin. Our apathy. Our arrogance. Our bitterness. Our unforgiveness. It was crucified with Him so that God could forgive us.
Through the gospel, not only are our souls emptied of our sin, our hearts are filled with God’s Spirit. Because of what Jesus has already done for us, we can now join Him in what He is doing for others. We can love God with everything we have. And we can love our neighbor as ourselves.
Let’s start there. Maybe we end there too?