It is incredibly difficult to speak in a transformative way in a dualistic-minded society. On one hand, I am telling everyone silence is complicity, and on the other, you cannot hear God unless you are silent.
Both statements are true, and this is where wisdom must come into play. Wisdom truly is crying out in our streets, as stated in Proverbs 1:20.
Can we lament how blatant and awful and above ground—with no embarrassment whatsoever—racism is right now? I know racism has been at play since the founding of our country, but it is really out in the open right now. I know it is because it is being challenged. Power doesn’t back down. Empires are committed to their systems.
Just recently, the super racist Social Justice Gospel statement was released, and Amanda Mintz wrote about it here last week. Then, the Serena Williams racist cartoon came out after the incredibly misogynistic umpire-imposed penalties on her and seriously tainted the U.S. Open. And finally, yet another police officer shot and ended another black life. When will it be said too many have died? This encompasses everyone: children’s lives, black lives, police lives, women’s lives, religious people in their own place of worship.
I want to talk about Botham Jean. I did not know him, but he comes from my church heritage, the Church of Christ. It is funny how you feel a connection when you hear something like that even without ever meeting. One of my dear friends from my former church sent me a video of Botham Jean leading worship at Harding University. It was so beautiful. I wept without ceasing for a good bit. He led “In Christ Alone,” and the beautiful acapella singing from the group took me back to what I do love so much about my heritage. Church of Christ people love to sing.
This video revealed the complexities of life. A life that should still be here leading worship that my soul remembers so well. I don’t agree 100 percent with the theology of “In Christ Alone” anymore (the whole satisfying the wrath of God thing is not my theology), but the ending gives me chills every time:
No guilt in life, no fear in death, This is the power of Christ in me.From life's first cry to final breath,Jesus commands my destiny.No power of hell, no scheme of man,Can ever pluck me from his hand.’Til he returns or calls me homeHere in the power of Christ I'll stand.
Speaking up in times like these is really difficult. Sometimes I wonder if what I say is just in vain. It seems to be getting worse and not better, and we cannot make any meaningful change because we have closed ourselves off to each other. This “for or against” society is killing us literally and spiritually.
George’s sermon was so important this past week. We need to find what is closed off in us so we can remain open for the healing power of God. Amen. And I am grateful to be a part of the church that believes justice is essential to the gospel.
Eugene Cho says this, “Social justice is not the totality of the gospel, but the gospel without a commitment to neighbor, mercy, justice and common good (aka social justice) is not a faithful gospel. The gospel not only saves, but also ushers in the kingdom of God.”
I am listening to a book on Paul and found a point where Paul is working really hard with Barnabas on something new, but he is getting weary. Are their efforts in vain? He also believed the Spirit would finish the work that was started and found many not participating, trusting the Spirit would take care of it. Paul then tells them this in 1 Corinthians to make it clear ushering in the kingdom requires our physical bodies, and we must train our bodies for the work:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to take the prize. Everyone who competes in the games trains with strict discipline. They do it for a crown that is perishable, but we do it for a crown that is imperishable. Therefore, I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight like I am beating the air. No, I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
Recently, I haven’t been doing a great job practicing such disciplines, and it shows. What lies ahead is hard, but we are kingdom people believing in the intersection of heaven and earth. We must discipline our bodies by being silent, so when we do need to speak (like now) we are not beating against the air just making noise.
We have a better story. We have a story that creates life, not destroys life. A life where there is enough for all (“There is no longer Jews or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”) This is a message that lives today and is including more diversity today.