“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”1 John 4:20 NIV
Yes. I’m going here and a lot of people aren’t going to like it. But I’m not here to remain quiet in this space. I’m here to speak my truth and (I hope) show the christian community that Black lives matter in the church community, as much as in the wider world. I didn’t participate in the #blackouttuesday taking place a few weeks ago. Whilst I understood what the community were trying to do, the question I asked myself was this…
How many people would do anything after the hype and the trending hashtags are over? For me it was posting, sharing, trying to express things that I clearly have suppress in my 32 years on God’s earth and trying to do it in a way that didn’t make my many white friends feel uncomfortable. And then I asked myself why? Why am I so afraid to make people uncomfortable? I spent my life making myself uncomfortable to suit others and now I feel like I have the permission and grace to be able to speak my mind? Freedom of speech right? And yet I never felt my speech on this issue could be truly free.
It was never God’s intention for any of us to be divided.
Racism is as old as Jesus himself and older. You remember the Israelite’s in Egypt? They were enslaved. Remember the story of the Good Samaritan?
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (NIV)
You see. A priest saw the man likely bloody and bleeding. Hurting and instead of helping him through that pain and helping with healing he not only ignored the man. he crossed over to the other side of the street. His mentality showed that even though he was a religious leader, maybe some kind of Rabbi (in the day) he didn’t want to deal with it. His attitude. “It’s not my issue. It’s not my problem. Someone else can deal with it.” Maybe he even questioned the character of the man to get himself beaten up that way. He should’ve been reflecting and question himself and his biases.
Then in verse 32 – a levite came saw the man and he to crossed over and passed on the other side. He too decided the man was not his issue. Maybe the man even cried out in pain. Asked for help. But the levite still felt well, you have to deal with it alone. Is this not what happens when people start with the I have black friends. My best friend is black. I’m not racist. What did they do though? When you do that how are you any better than the priest and the levite in this parable?
Finally, after having 2 people pass and ignore him in all of his hurt and pain a Samaritan approaches on his way through to somewhere. Maybe his in a hurry? Maybe his late? That’s what I always imagined when reading this parable anyway. Read: He took pity on him. He (in that moment) felt his pain. Not only did he bandage his wounds, he carried him to an inn and took care of him. Not only did he pay for him he said if it’s not enough I will give more later. I wonder, how many Christians feel that the issues they are seeing on the news are still not there problem. Beyond the corona virus pandemic nothing else needs taking notice of right? Are you bandaging your brother and sisters wounds or letting them get more infected? Are you infected with your own prejudices too? Clean inside your house. Your body=house. Your mind=house. Are you cleaning your house? Are you recognizing that your brothers and sisters are hurting or are you turning a blind eye like the priest and levite?
Are you bandaging your brother and sisters wounds or letting them get more infected?
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. (John 4:7-9 NIV)
Now look at verse 9. The Samaritan woman ask Jesus how he can ask her for a drink for he is a jew. This tells us that she already knows her social standing in the world and that Jews believed themselves to be above Samaritans. Did Jesus care about that? Nope. Jesus already knew what we are only opening our eyes to now. We are call to love our neighbors as OURSELVES.
Matthew 6: 10 – “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” So, it is God’s will that we transform earth as it is in heaven. God told us to love our neighbors. He is never specific. It does not say love your black neighbor or only love your white neighbor or only love those in the same social standing as yourself. If they are richer than you don’t love them. No! “Love you neighbor as YOURSELF.”
If you could be a black christian tomorrow would you be?
God doesn’t believe his white children are superior to his black children, his Asian children, his Indian children. God just loves all of humankind, all his kids deserve to be treated the same way. He created us in His image. Are the white christian community really loving all of their brothers and sisters as they love themselves? Truthfully, reflect on this question. If you could be a black christian tomorrow would you be? Truthfully. If you said no, then reflect on why? You know why don’t you? Because even in the christian community, you know being a christian wouldn’t exempt you from the issues all black people have to face.
Even in the christian community, you know being a christian wouldn’t exempt you from the issues all black people have to face.
As a christian, the aim is to live a biblical life with each other. To try (though we may often fail) to walk like a light of Christ in others lives. We cannot be ignorant and turn a blind eye to the systemic racism that exists. The church need to start realizing this.
We are Christ’s ambassadors. If you claim to know Christ, if you say that you do indeed have an active relationship with him, should you not then see the pain of Christ’s children all around you? Should you not be asking what you can do to create justice for those who cannot claim it for themselves? For those who have been screwed over by the systems created to keep them down?
We cannot be ignorant and turn a blind eye to the systemic racism that exists. The church need to start realizing this.
Starting being comfortable with being uncomfortable. Can you say you are being active in being anti-racist. Being a christian doesn’t make you non-racist. Being a christian doesn’t mean you are exempt from doing anti-racism work. Or anything anti-love anti-Christ for that matter. Start really reflecting on how Jesus loved and ask yourself. Am I really exempt from this issue?