I struggle to know what to say. I have trouble speaking. Mere words seem inadequate. Tragedy. Anguish. Fear. Anger. Sadness.
What words adequately could express the heartache over the unjust deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery—and the list could continue?
In moments like these, when it’s hard to find the words, we are called to the Biblical practice of lament. It is a language for loss and grief. It is the historic prayer for hurting Christ followers. It is a way to process pain. It is a way to cry out to God for change in the face of injustice—and is that not what we should do when the sin of racism plagues our land?
We who follow Jesus are called to embrace the biblical truth revealed in Genesis 1 that every person is made in the image of God—and we must speak out whenever the wonder of God’s image is denied in anyone. God’s heart is for every person.
To lament is to create emotional space to mourn before God and with others. It is critical in the healing process. It means being honest. And at this time, honestly, the Biblical word that keeps coming to my mind is—repent! Be sorrowful over the brokenness of our world. Be sorrowful over the violence of our world. But be not only sorrowful—change! Work for change. When racism flourishes, God is denied, and change is required.
While sin, injustice and racism will never be fully eradicated until Christ’s return, we have the responsibility to carry out the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:20). We have the responsibility to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8).
What are we to do?
1. Pray. Why pray? Because we are in a spiritual battle against principalities and powers of evil when racism denigrates and demeans and destroys humanity. We are to pray for ourselves in self-examination over whatever needs first to change in us. Then we are to pray for all who suffer racism for protection, healing, guidance. Then we are to pray for all who perpetrate racism for repentance and change.
2. Listen and Learn. Listen to stories of persons who have suffered from racism to empathize and understand. Read books like: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.
3. Take Action. Engage in justice initiatives. Support justice ministries. Reach out actively to people who are different than you with the love of Christ and build genuine, meaningful relationships.
In Journey’s online services at 9:30 a.m. & 11:15 a.m. on June 7, Pastor Charles Wilson of The Hill Church and I will be having a dialogue on racism in society and the church. I hope you will join us.