Black Lives Do Matter

Last night, after coming home from spending time with my family on the anniversary of my brother's death (23 years), I heard in the news of the shooting death of a black man, Alton Sterling, by two white police officers. The shooting death was caught on film by several people, including other officers. This much is clear, the punishment or action of the police officers did not fit the crime. Alton was clearly under their control after he seemed to resist for a short time. 

You might say, "Had he not resisted he would still be alive today." I say to you, "It matters not and your statement is nonsense." He did resist. He was subdued. And he was shot dead in the street at point blank range. 

Let's be clear, most police officers are not racists, they lay their lives down for the communities they protect, they risk their lives, and they serve well. It is hard to speak on what a police officer and his or her family goes through on a daily basis so I will let Nakia Jones speak on their behalf. My words are not an indictment of all police officers, most police officers, white police officers or any law enforcement in general. Law enforcement has my support and honor and I am forever grateful for all that they do to keep this land safe.  

However, there is a racial divide in America. Some would say that it is growing, but I would argue that it has always been there - we just can't ignore it any longer. The age of the internet has exposed the human heart. In a way, the internet is like the prophets of old who heralded from the temple that the people were wicked and that their hearts were beyond cure without gracious intervention. The internet has exposed the true nature of humanity. 

We cannot be silent. Our voices cannot be quiet. Racism is not a political issue. In Ephesians Paul says, "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility." 

In Paul's time he was speaking about racism to the Ephesian church. Paul was reassuring the Gentile Christians of Ephesus that they were no longer separated from God, but rather that the work of Christ had brought together two people groups, Jews and Gentiles, together as one new people.

That is why in Galatians he would say, "...for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." If Paul were writing today, he would tell the church, "You are no longer two people. For in Christ all are made sons of God through faith. The racial divisions in the church are not only ridiculous but heretical! There is no black or white, blue collar or white collar. There are no presidents or paupers. There are only sons!"

These words were true then and they are true now. Jesus prayed for our unity in his very last moments before he would be crucified. How have pursued the prayers of our Savior? How have we fought for unity and diversity? 

White people, we have to stop trying to explain away how a tragedy could have been avoided and just acknowledge the evil that has taken place without trying to put our stamp of approval or disapproval on it. We have to stop with our opinions and we must start listening to our black brothers and sisters. We have to follow their lead and listen to their voices. Black lives do matter. They matter to God and they matter to the church. 

Enough is enough! I have been vocal but I have not been nearly vocal enough and so I repent of my sin. I am not indifferent but I have also not been active enough. I want to share the words of Pastor Eric Mason of Ephiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia with you. Are you ready to follow the lead of our black brothers and sisters? If we believe the Gospel and it has taken root in our hearts a natural consequence will be reconciliation, justice, and mercy. 

"A few days after Independence Day several unarmed African American males are shot dead by the police. I love and respect police and know many who really want to serve and protect. It is killing me as Yvette and I raise three black boys! I don't have words anymore. I have tons of white friends and I've only heard from 3! My text alerts have been going ballistic! This matter of police brutality is really a symptom of the systemic racism and fear of black people that still rages in this country. I have watched a white man kill 9 black people and be treated more like the Imago dei than these black men. I have watched several videos where white men have fought the police vehemently and was merely tazed for up to 15 minutes and subdued well. Although they were deeply threatened, they still tried to keep it from escalating to killing the assailants. But Trayvon, Eric, Brown, Ford, Crawford, Gurley, Rice, Brisbon, Reid, Robinson, White, Harris, Scott, Gray, Sterling and others were not afforded the same chance. Scripture says, everything must be confirmed by 3 or more witnesses! We have many more do we need?

The 4th of July you say remember it, but slavery forget it. 9/11 you say remember it, Jim Crow forget it!

Don't use black on black crime as an apologetic! That is diverting! Don't say Paul and the Apostles didn't fight the injustice against their unjust treatment...That is because they were imprisoned because of the gospel, not their color. Not the same. Some say, "Lets hear all the facts"! You make comments on everything else prematurely, but this needs all the facts...Don't say he should not have resisted. Although you should not pull back from the police, when you are being arrested for nothing or for a minor offense and shot for it, the action doesn't fit the situation.

To my white silent and indifferent Christian conservative family, I am sadden by "seeing you don't see and hearing you don't hear." You were silent during slavery, jim crow, civil rights, and now. Then you say, don't bring up the past, but then there hasn't been national repentance by our country or you! I have become apathetic to believe you will ever speak prophetic to these matters. To be honest, I'm not waiting on you to be. I am thankful for those who have reached out and have expressed their empathy and shared brokenness and willingness to share their sword with us. With that being said Black Christians have to stop waiting on white approvals and doctrinal green lights from them to act!

...I'm going to fight, speak to, serve, and join with my brothers and sisters, my city and nation to fight against injustice as a major outworking of the gospel by faith. Jesus' first advent already happened and His 2nd advent is coming soon, but until then we are called to missiological philanthropy as an outworking of the gospel based on Titus 2:11-15 and Titus 3!

We like Isaiah 53 but not Isaiah 58

6 "Is not this the fast that I choose: 

to loose the bonds of wickedness, 
to undo the straps of the yoke, 
to let the oppressed go free, 
and to break every yoke? 
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry 
and bring the homeless poor into your house; 
when you see the naked, to cover him, 
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? 
8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, 
and your healing shall spring up speedily; 
your righteousness shall go before you; 
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. 
9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; 
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.' 
If you take away the yoke from your midst, 
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, 
10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry 
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, 
then shall your light rise in the darkness 
and your gloom be as the noonday."

Black Lives do matter. It's time to be agents of reconciliation in our town. I hope to join in with my black brothers and sisters and help lead the way as God allows me. 

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