Updated: May 22
What happened in Buffalo over the weekend was horrendous. It's yet another wake-up call that racism still exists in the undercurrent of our society, if not always in the forefront. It is proof that we, the church, still have more to do. More to work on. More to change. More to fight for.
And we must.
But, if you're anything like me, you're hesitant to join the fight; reluctant to draw a line in the sand, fearful of who would be drawn on the other side.
On Sunday, Beth Moore tweeted about the tragedy. She called it as she saw it, accurately, in my opinion. If you don't know who Beth Moore is, you're missing out, but I'll sum her up for you in a sentence: She is a disciple and teacher of Jesus, a woman unafraid and unapologetic to dig into the Bible and compare the Word of God to her own words. And, if I'm being honest, I want to be more like her.
But Beth, in her raw compassion that was laced with strength and resolve, was attacked for her comments. By another Christian leader. Sadly, this is nothing new. And although she does not need me to defend her, it got me thinking about the church, Christians, and how we publicly interact with each other and the world.
And this is the thought I came up with: enough is enough.
The truth is that Christians have been bullied into silence for too long... by other Christians. We have felt unable to speak about injustice because it's either too much or not enough. And if we do, then we're either feeding into "the media's propaganda" or becoming a "progressive Christian." Long gone are the days of simply not wanting to offend; instead, we have arrived at the point that we just don't want to get attacked. Attacked by fellow Christians who make a career of creating enemies in other Christians.
So we need to ask ourselves if speaking out is worth the risk of being black-listed by leaders, mentors, and friends who are afraid to answer questions about how things have always been done?
Friends, it has to be worth the risk.
People are dying because we have stayed silent for too long, living in the comfort of our homes and church pews while ignoring the broken and the hurting. I'm not just talking about racism. I'm talking about the poor, the immigrants, the innocent people on death row, the women with unexpected pregnancies, the people treated as less than human because they don't check the boxes we would like them to... the boxes that would make us more comfortable with their existence.
This is not what the church is supposed to be.
No matter what we tell ourselves, this is not "standing up for truth," this is standing in the way of compassion. We will never solve anything if we can't figure out how to lay down our swords of self-righteousness and clothe ourselves in the words of this scripture:
“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17
Notice it says to learn to do right. Not be right.
We cannot be afraid to dig into scripture and dismantle what we believe because we've always believed it. We cannot continue to take a man's word as truth without comparing it to the truth even when - especially when - he tells you not to question it.
Wouldn't we rather do right by others than be right in front of them? Wouldn't we rather do right for the kingdom than damage it by refusing to be wrong? Wouldn't we rather do right for the least, the lonely and the lost, than tell them all the things they did wrong to get them here?
Far too many Christian leaders are consumed with pointing out the speck in everyone else's eye while ignoring the log in their own.
Don't get me wrong. I am not saying anything goes. I am not suggesting that we forsake truth in the name of grace. Instead, I am suggesting that the Bible teaches us to love, serve, and advocate for every single one of God's children, regardless of their past or present, skin color, religious affiliation, income status, criminal history, sexual preference, or, dare I say it, denomination.
It's time we do better.
If we want to lead, if we're going to change the world, or contribute to hearts and souls being won for Jesus, we must put aside our need to be right, and dare to love people senselessly. We have to spend the most of ourselves serving the least of these.
At the end of the day, I believe that Jesus would be fighting for black lives. I believe he would be pleading with the church to rise up in compassion for the oppressed. I believe he would be advocating for victims of abuse and giving a voice to the voiceless instead of silencing them to save a person's reputation. I believe Jesus would get up every day and pour out his love, compassion, grace, and mercy on all of us. Just as he did in scripture.
Christian leaders who are more concerned about power, politics, and position than they are about people need a serious gut check. Jesus’s ministry was consumed by hurting, sinful, messy people and ours should be too. If it isn't, then we're just flat out doing it wrong.
Let's be the church to a hurting and broken world by doing right instead of trying to be right. Let's show Jesus to others by leading with compassion, humility, and understanding instead of piety, self-righteousness, and arrogance. Let's remember that we are all sinners saved by a sinless God who loves us. We are all in need of a Savior, me especially. People will be won to Jesus by our love, not by our anger-righteous or not. Let's do this together.