I want to speak now. I want to speak while the chaos and confusion is breaking through our apathy and waking us up to the reality that something is wrong. I want to speak and add my voice to the cries that are rising up around me.
I want to speak now. But what is there to say?
Trapped in this body of pale white skin, what can my breaking heart say that will help? That I understand? That I know how it feels? Obviously not. I feel pathetic even typing those questions on this page. Still, I have buried a brother who was shot down because of similar reasons. I have held his weeping wife and will help raise his son. And I have seen the glory of God rise up from spilled blood more than once.
There is something deep and desperately wrong about it all. Not just murder, but murder based on race. Not just condemnation, but condemnation based on God’s creative design. Not just against God’s word, but against His Word while feigning to be under His Word. As if tearing down God’s greatest artwork – image bearing souls – isn’t horrific enough, the gunman executed judgement and took life as if he was God because he found his victims guilty of the crime of being fearfully and wonderfully made.
And what are we to do? I do not have insight born from experience or expertise. The only resources I have to answer that question are a weary heart and weak hands and His Word. May He use them:
Oh children of God, repent. Repent for hidden racism in your heart that you have suppressed and justified. Repent for those small ‘jokes’ or prejudices that you justify or label as statistics. Repent for the ‘them’ or ‘those kind of people’ in your vocabulary.Repent for the crouching corners of your heart that judge people based on the color of their skin.
Repent because our God is not – and never has been – the God of White America. Repent because our great and glorious Creator displays Himself through the design of diversity. Repent because our Father has sent His Son to die to purchase for Himself a bride made up of people who look different from you.
And if you think there is no prejudice – no racism – hidden in you – invite His Spirit to surface the truth or repent for what you do not see. Repent because we – the Church – will not make excuses or offer explanations for racism. Repent because we are free in Christ to turn and be healed. Let us all experience the great leveling of the Cross and swim in the great grace and forgiveness we find there.
Do not believe the lie that prayer is powerless on days like today. Do not believe the lie that the real work will be done anywhere but on your knees.
As my friend emailed me today:
It’s not just that all we can do is pray – it’s that the best thing we can do is pray. We pray for the hearts of the victim’s friends and families. We pray for protection of the churches. We pray that this tragedy reveals the problems in our nation and we look to the only One who can heal and fix. We pray for this kid’s heart and his family.
We feel powerless to stand in the face of such tragedy. Let that feeling drop us to the floor and plead with the One who has the power to create the universe with but a breath. Pray – not to prepare yourself for the battle ahead – but to fight the battle itself.
Hear this crazy promise and believe:
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7-8 ESV)
I don’t understand that verse, and I can’t explain it, but I can tell you what it says: if you really want to change this broken world – it begins and ends with abiding in Jesus Christ through the Word.
I’m sure that doesn’t seem like enough to many. Reading, meditating & praying the Bible? That’s the big plan, Fabs? Please.
But I wonder if even that response might be born out of a painful hidden reality that it is not that we think abiding in Christ is ‘not enough’, but rather that we fear it might be too much. Too much work.
How far does our horror over Charleston go? Do we love the lives of the persecuted enough that we will wake up an hour earlier tomorrow to be with Jesus so that our prayers may become His will? Do we care enough about racism that we are willing to miss out on time with friends, or shut off our email and leave tasks undone so that we might abide in Christ and plead for His people?
I am terribly afraid that the truth is, for most of us – the lives lost in Charleston will be a fleeting thought and passionate prayer and a Facebook status. In my cynicism, I doubt that we are desperate enough for change that we are willing to become people who abide in God.
May my cynical heart be proved wrong.