My deafening silence on racial injustice

About a week after George Floyd’s death, I was on the plane coming home to Denver with great distress. My toes were curling up and I had so much hesitation to put ink to my journal. Despite the uncomfortableness, I began to write and confessed to God the darkness dwelling in me. 

A week later, I opened up my journal again. I asked God to bring me to tears over the gregarious sins I have committed. I asked God to show me the cobwebs that have been wreaking havoc in my soul. I sat in stillness, but nothing ignited within me.

Another week went by. Every day I felt God urging me to engage, but I didn’t want to sit in discomfort. After a long day of work, I just wanted to relax and forget about the problems of the world.

Friday night as I went upstairs, I had every intention of turning on something light-hearted and entertaining. I was tired and worn out from the week and felt like I didn’t have much emotional energy. However, I decided to watch Just Mercy (it’s free on Prime video, I highly recommend!) It is based on a true story of a young black lawyer that battles for justice as he defends a black man sentenced to death despite clear evidence proving his innocence. It shook me to the core and brought me to tears. I was disgusted at the demonic nature of humankind that has brought so much pain and injustice to this world. More than that though, I was disturbed by my deafening silence.

As I write here today, there is an incredible sadness that fills my soul as I reflect on the past 26 years. Quite tragically, this season is one of the first times in my life where I have seriously engaged with the monstrous sin of racism. And particularly how I have not fought to denounce it and have turned a blind eye to it. In the past when racial injustice has been brought to the world’s attention, in general, even since I have been a Christian, I have not been particularly up in arms about it. If anything, I maybe would say a quick prayer, but sort of ignore or forget about it a week later. Sometimes I would feel God urging me to engage, but I resisted and went on with my life.

I’ll be honest, after the death of Ahmaud Arbery, I was sorta heading down that path. And then even in the days after George Floyd, I didn’t look into it much into the details of what happened. It wasn’t until a week later when I began to engage. And it wasn’t until a week after that when I finally watched the horrific video of Floyd being murdered.

I am sick that I have willingly disengaged from racial injustice. For the first time in a long time, I truly feel how undeserving I am of God’s grace. Not only have I been silent, I have allowed horrible prejudiced and maybe even racist thoughts to swirl in my head without true repentance. Even though these thoughts are rarely uttered, according to Jesus, I am just as guilty as the people who say these things out loud. For example, Jesus says that even one that looks at a woman lustfully commits adultery with her in their heart (Matthew 5:28). My thoughts are evil, and while it’s hard for me to fathom that I could commit some of these horrendous acts, I am in no way innocent to the tragic reality that racism is still a serious problem in this country because my unrepentant heart and history of disengagement has contributed to the deafening silence of white people. 

Through all of this and as I reflect on my walk as a Christian, I feel like a hypocrite. I have passionately sought to spread the message of salvation, but have not truly been living it out. I have not reguarilly advocated for the helpless. I have not been a huge part of or really desired much to bring social justice to this broken, hurting world. I have remained individualistic and selfish. I have spent more time thinking about myself than the people around me. I have had a very skewed view of what the gospel really is and have focused mostly on helping people get saved. The truth is, Jesus’s only goal wasn’t to save people from hell and bring them to heaven. In the beginning of his ministry Jesus came to the synagogue to teach on the prophet Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” -Luke 4:18-19

Jesus came to bring JUSTICE to this world. He is the prince of peace and the lowly servant who came to serve the poor and the oppressed. Yes, we need to be reconciled to God. All have sinned in gregarious ways and Jesus gave his life for us so that we could be free from the enslavement of sin. But this “good news” encompasses more than “Jesus died for your sins.” While eternity will be perfect and evil things like racism will cease to exist, Jesus has brought heaven down to earth and we are commanded to put into practice everything he did and preached. God has given us a new heart and his Holy Spirit so that we would have the supernatural power to both make disciples and bring real, lasting justice to this world that has been aching since the beginning of time.

To those who are white and processing all of this, I want to encourage you, if you haven’t already, take some time to engage and examine your hearts. Before we fight for and are effective in bringing justice, I believe it’s important that we repent of the ways we may have directly or indirectly harmed the communities we are now seeking to protect. It’s uncomfortable and takes humility, but it’s something we need to do. I hope this doesn’t sound condemning. It may not apply to all of you as you have already done the work or have been an incredible ally for all your life. But I think, if a lot of us are honest, we still have cobwebs to clean. It’s important though to not look to our black friends to relieve any pain we feel. We must take it to God. He knows our hearts and will take away our shame. We are not designed to bear our sin alone and it’s not fair to put it on someone else, especially the people who have suffered from our sinfulness. Jesus wants to forgive us and bring us peace that will allow us to continue to listen, learn and act with grace and humility.

To those who are black and reading this, I am sincerely sorry. I have been part of the problem. I have no excuse. I am listening. I am learning. I will pray earnestly for you. I will no longer be silent. I will have tough conversations and speak out. I will never understand what it’s like to be in your shoes. I have only exposed myself to the tip of the iceberg, but what I have been watching and reading lately though, I am reeling over the heinous racial history and current reality of this country. I am becoming more and more aware how demonic racism truly is. It’s hard to watch myself, I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be on the receiving end. I want you to know though, that God hates the sin of racism with a burning passion. He is bringing justice to this world and he took on this pain at the cross so that one day complete justice would be served.

“For I the LORD love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.” Isaiah 61:8

“And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.” Luke 18:7

No matter what the world may tell you or how people treat you, you are made in the image of God and he loves you so much. Jesus is crying and aching with you. He is collecting all your tears in his bottle (Psalm 56:8). Tragically the church historically has done a poor job at fighting racism and has even defended it. But God shows no partiality (Acts 10:34-35). We are called to make disciples of ALL nations and one day, Jesus will gather people from “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” and there will be everlasting peace and unity,” (Rev 7:9).

I still have a long way to go. I still need to do more heart work and continue to repent. I am still weary of having tough and uncomfortable conversations and participating in marches and protests. I have not yet really acted in significant ways to fight for racial justice. This post in no way clears my discretions. I did not write this because I want to be praised for my vulnerability and desire to change my ways. My prayer is that through this it can help start authentic conversations full of humility and grace, where we will have courage to admit our wrongs and encourage each other to fight racial injustice. I pray we can glorify God with our words and actions and use God’s spirit that he has given us to bring about incredible, lasting change.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” -Eph 3:20-21

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