My heart breaks over the patterns and systems of injustice and oppression against the Black community.
I’ve stepped away from social media for the last few weeks to listen and educate myself about how to be an ally for the Black community and all people of color. I recognize that it is a privilege to “sit back and listen”. I take time to collect my thoughts, and want to use my words for more than just hastily sharing a few graphics here and there and calling it good. In the words of my best friend, “Social media is set up to elicit instantaneous responses to things”. She’s right, and that just won’t cut it right now. There is so much I don’t know. I’m listening. I’m learning. I want to center the narrative around Black people and people of color. I also want to use my voice and privilege to “speak up” for the oppressed. It is biblical to speak up for the oppressed. So here’s what I do know.
Racism and injustice break God’s heart.
He created us to live in perfect harmony with Him and with one another, and every person is made in His image. When we oppress His children or commit violence and injustice against another, we are committing sin. Sin is missing the mark of God’s design.
There is a way forward from sin, and this way demands confession and repentance.
Confession is admitting that we have sinned against God and often against a brother or sister made in His image. Confession requires deep transparency and honesty about sin.
Repentance is turning away and running in the opposite direction. Repentance isn’t “I’m sorry”. Repentance is “I’m going to change”.
When Jesus began his public ministry, he said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
This is the gospel: Each one of us has sinned, and has “missed the mark” of God’s intention. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And the deserved punishment for sin is death. But Jesus, God’s Son, who lived a perfect life without sin, was crucified on a cross to pay this price for our sins. While we were still sinners, Jesus died so that we don’t have to pay the price for our own sin. Three days later, he was resurrected and defeated sin and death forever. He offers forgiveness of all sin for anyone who would confess, repent, and follow him. But we still sin. We still miss the mark. We still get it wrong. And when we do, we must confess and repent. Confession and repentance are the first steps on the path of reconciliation with God and reconciliation with one another. (See the book of Romans, chapter 3 in the Bible for more about the nature of sin and the redemption from Jesus).
Racism is sin. Police brutality is sin. Systems of injustice designed to oppress Black people for the color of their skin are sin.
There are a lot of opinions about how to be an ally for racial reconciliation. The truth I see in the Bible shows me a straight and narrow path forward. There are so many action steps we can take to end the patterns of oppression and violence against the Black community. I’m educating myself about what steps to take, as I hope you are too.
But I know that each one of us must begin by addressing our own sin through confession and repentance. I confess that I have sinned against my Black brothers and sisters in things I have done, and things I have failed to do. I confess that I have covered my eyes and ears for too long while police brutality runs rampant against Black people. There is so much more to confess. I can’t possibly verbalize it all here.
But then, I must repent. I must turn and run in the opposite direction, seeking wisdom and guidance from the Lord about how to take action to end the systems of injustice and oppression against the Black community. Repentance is an action because it necessitates a change. I’m asking the Lord for wisdom about what actions to take as an ally for racial equality to create a more just and equitable world moving forward, but I will also continue to daily confess and repent and thank God for His forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ. I’ll share some of the education I’ve found for taking action below, and will humbly receive action steps and education as well.
As a nation, we must confess and repent. We must change. We must turn and run in the other direction, away from racial inequity and violent injustice against Black people and people of color, and run towards a future where the color of your skin does not predetermine your experience with our government, our medical systems, our school systems, or our justice systems.
The focus and narrative of this time in our world should be centered around people of color who are sharing their experiences. I want to humbly listen and learn, and boldly speak and take action. We each have a voice to use, and I’ll use mine to point to the truth of the gospel and the hope it brings every one of us for a way forward. My words feel insufficient, but I will use them in every way I can to point others to the gospel of Jesus Christ in the midst of our sinful and broken world.
I don’t know what else to say, so I’ll close with this:
Black lives matter to God.
Black lives matter to me.
Black lives matter.
“And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
Resources for Education and Action
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but here are some resources and action steps I’ve found to help us respond to racial injustice.
Resources for Confession and Repentance:
- Psalm 32 from the Bible gives us a biblical pattern for confession and repentance.
1 Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
6 Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
will not reach them.
7 You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
9 Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.
11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!
- She Reads Truth, a Bible curriculum company with the goal of getting women in the Word of God every day, posted a series of graphics on Instagram with prayer of confession and repentance.
- I wasn’t planning to include this, but I flipped through the Book of Common Prayer to look for a specific prayer and found this instead. I know that the senseless deaths of so many Black brothers and sisters have prompted many to speak up about racial inequity and violence against Black people. This is a prayer to respond to the “Death of someone killed in the neighborhood” from the Book of Common Prayer, and it may be helpful to put words to your prayer if you’re at a loss for words.
“Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world. Have mercy on us. Grant us peace. For the unbearable toil of our sinful world, we plead for remission. For the terror of absence from our beloved, we plead for your comfort. For the scandalous presence of death in your creation, we plead for the resurrection. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world. Have mercy on us. Grant us peace. Come, Holy Spirit, and heal all that is broken in our lives, in our streets, and in our world. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Resources for Education
Here are a few books and resources I’ve been recommended that I’m exploring to educate myself about racial injustice against Black people in our country. I just started reading “Stamped from the Beginning”, but the rest are on my list. These will not be affiliate links, because I don’t feel comfortable making a commission on these recommendations!
- Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
- The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
- Be The Bridge: an online resource to empower people and culture to racial healing, equity, and reconciliation
Resources for Action:
President Barack Obama developed an excellent resource full of action steps and education to respond to create a more just and equitable world. Whether you supported him politically or not, this resource is incredibly valuable for all Americans.
- Anguish and Action
- New Era of Public Safety: An advocacy toolkit for fair, safe, and effective community policing
I won’t pretend to be an authority in this movement, and I’d be happy to add more resources to this very brief list.
With so much love,