Two stories from two worlds
It’s Sunday afternoon. A white family goes to lunch. Dad is dressed nicely, as is the family. It’s clear he has just been to a church service. But he notices that things are different. He remembers twenty years ago when people respected you for going to church. But now he feels the glares of judgment coming from others. Halfway through the meal someone walks up to him and actually says to his children, “I hope one day you can escape from this lunatic family that hates women and loves oppression.”
The man is shocked! He complains to the manager who doesn’t seem to really care. In fact, he says to the man, “To be honest, we’d prefer if racists such as yourself didn’t even come to our restaurant.”
The man is stunned… He’s not a racist, he doesn’t hate women. He leaves with his family, wondering what happened to America.
On that same day, a black man is jogging through his neighborhood. A white woman looks out her window and doesn’t recognize him. Why is he in her neighborhood? She thinks he might be up to no good. She calls the police who arrive about fifteen minutes later. After driving around the neighborhood, they find the black man jogging.
They ask him what he’s doing there. He’s a bit indignant. After all, none of the white joggers have been asked what they’re doing there. When he doesn’t answer, they ask him for ID. He asks them why they need ID – he’s just jogging through the neighborhood. Things escalate, and before he knows it, he’s in handcuffs.
Where is the Outrage?
Which story outrages you more? The first one is definitely an exaggeration. But it could be a reality in America in the not-too-distant future. But the second one is a reality for black men all over America today. Maybe not every day and maybe not in exactly the same way—but the reality of being pre-judged based on your skin color is a daily experience for black Americans. I know this, because I do it subconsciously all the time!
I can hear the responses, the justifications, and explanations. But let’s not go there—please. I’m asking you to hear my heart. I’m asking you to hear, what I believe, is the heart of God. What is God’s feelings on racism in America? On the wound of slavery? Most of my readers are like me, Republicans. But we need to look at every issue with a heart of prayer. I maintain that the issue of racism is not as black and white (forgive the pun) as other issues, like homosexuality. And, God is demanding that we deal with it, or we will suffer than same discrimination (many of us already are).
The Injustice of it all!?
I was driving home today, and I was pondering about the way in which believers are now perceived in America (we have been in the states for the past few months). It is quite alarming. If you follow the teachings of Yeshua, then you are a person who loves your neighbor as yourself. You want to do good. You want to be a blessing to the world around you. You’re certainly not filled with hate. But that undoubtedly has become the perception – particularly if you are a white evangelical.
Years ago, this would have made me very upset. The injustice! But as I was driving home and asking the Lord about it, I felt like He whispered to me, “Now you know how black people feel. This is going to be the reality, until white believers understand the plight of their black brothers and sisters.”
Just to be clear, I did not see an angel or hear an audible voice. It was just an inspired thought. You can judge for yourself if it was the Holy Spirit, by whether or not it bears witness in your spirit. That’s your biblical responsibility. (1 Thess. 5:20-21)
Please God, no!
But one of the reasons I felt very strongly that it was the voice of God was because of my reaction. My first thought was, “No, God, please don’t make me write about this.” As you can imagine I have taken quite a beating since November 7th, when I shared with you regarding what the Holy Spirit, I believe, told me regarding the election back in September. I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed the grace of God protecting me from what I will call the most vicious verbal onslaught I have ever experienced in my life. I’m not mad at anybody, and I’m not bitter at anybody. I am walking in the grace and joy of Messiah Yeshua.
But the last thing I want to do is to stir the pot again. It’s not a lot of fun. But when it’s all said and done, I want to hear those precious words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
God is putting His finger on this issue; of that I am sure. There is a great divide between the white and black church in America. And God is calling the white church (believe me, I hate using the terms white church and black church, as we are one body—but I have to, so you will understand what I’m talking about) to take responsibility.
George Floyd—what could have been
If you are white, like me, you don’t know what it’s like to be targeted for the color of your skin. You don’t know what it’s like to become a suspect in a robbery or some other crime, simply because you are a black male. You can’t relate to Senator Tim Scott, who despite being a United States senator, has been pulled over seven times in DC, simply for being black. George Floyd was supposed to be a turning point, but we missed the moment.
And look what has happened since that time. White evangelicals have almost become synonymous with racists. I’m not saying I agree with that, and I’m certainly not saying it is true, but I am saying, that is the perception (and there are reasons). But here is what I think God is saying about it—the way out of it is not through blogging or protesting or politics. It’s through humility.
A friend of mine, a black evangelical leader, recently wrote this:
Today’s racial unrest presents White evangelicals with yet another opportunity for redemption. If, out of love for Jesus Christ and their Black Christian brothers and sisters, they’ll put their considerable muscle behind a robust package of policies, reforms and legislation purposed to redress the racial wrongs of the past and empower African-American people, families, communities and institutions, Black Christians will no doubt join them in fighting tooth and nail for religious liberty and the preservation of traditional family values. To say such a development – White evangelicals becoming radical torch-bearers for racial justice – would send shock waves throughout America is an immense understatement. But imagine the healing, transformative and evangelistic power such a move would have. If promoted as an outgrowth of faith in Jesus, it could quite literally “turn the world upside down.’’ In one fell swoop, White evangelicals could shed their racist image and create an un- precedented unity amongst millions of Bible-believing Christians across racial lines that might spark a revival or even another Great Awakening. Jesus himself said that when his followers are united, the world will believe in him.
The example of Yeshua
You would be hard pressed to come up with the biblical justification for fighting for our rights. The apostles didn’t do it, though they were denied their right regularly. But it would be very easy for you to show me through scripture how brokenness and humility bring the glory of God, how honoring our brothers and sisters from another race can break down walls of division, and how following the example of Jesus, who went to a painful and deadly cross for you and me, brings life to others. (1 Cor. 4:10-12)
Talk about humility! He came from heaven to earth. He left luxury for dirt. And He did all that for us. (Phil. 2:1-11, note v. 8) Can we not humble ourselves for the sake of our black brothers and sisters?
I believe with all my heart that that is the heavenly prescription to recalibrate the American church – both black and white. Screaming and shouting surely has not worked. Politics has failed. Let’s try humility.
Footnote: The great temptation, if you’re reading this article is to enter into whataboutism. I can do that, and I can even hear the examples in my head. But I’m trying to listen to Jesus and not my own flesh. We’ve got to get God’s heart and stop trying to figure things out through our own carnal understanding. God always has a plan…it’s just not always the one we’re looking for. But if we seek Him, we will find His will.