There is so much pain. There are so many hurting in this hour. There are so many emotions. Anger. Sadness. Fear. Worry. There is so much uncertainty. We are grieving now over the loss of many who have died unjustly at the hands of people who were called upon to serve and to protect. The murder of George Floyd has opened up a gaping wound for a people that have been oppressed under the yoke of injustice for decades. The American Dream has become a nightmare for too many of African-American brothers and sisters. We are a nation that is deeply hurting. And we are a nation in crisis. On top of all that, we are still in the middle of a global pandemic.
So how do we respond as the Body of Christ to this current crisis? What can we do? It can seem overwhelming, but there are some steps we can take that will help our own hearts as well as move us in the right direction.
Here are some steps we can take:
Vent our Emotions to the Lord
The first thing we must do is be honest with all the raw emotions that are flooding our minds and our hearts as we go through these intense times. Pour out your heart to the Lord in prayer. The psalmists cry out, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide your face in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1) Are you angry? Vent that rage to the Lord. Are you worried? Pour out your fears to our Father in heaven. He can handle all your honest emotions. We must learn to pray our pain to the Lord and pray through pain as we hope.
Lament the Loss and Brokenness of our World
We have lost so much these past few months in our world. We have seen hundreds of thousands die through the pandemic. We have seen far too many of our black brothers and sisters die at the hands of those who should have protected them. Millions have lost loved ones, lost jobs, lost dreams, and lost hope. It is a season to lament over these losses - some of which we will never have in our lives again. We will never be the same, and it is healthy for our souls and right to grieve over these losses. We lament over the cities in America crying out in pain. We cry out with the prophet Habakkuk, “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.” (Habakkuk 1:2-3) Be real with how you feel, and let those feelings turn into prayers.
Repent of Sins - Past and Present, Corporate and Personal
What we are seeing in the news each day is a result of the sins of this nation that has oppressed its people for decades. Before we point the finger at anyone else, we need to begin by repenting of our own sins that have played a role to these injustices. Be it by our actions, our attitude, or our apathy, we must repent of the sin of racism - in our hearts and in our land. We must repent of our sins of not loving our neighbors as ourselves. We must repent of not caring for the poor, the oppressed, or the vulnerable in our communities. God commands His people to “seek justice and correct oppression.” (Isaiah 1:17) God, have mercy on us and forgive us, as a nation, as Your Church, and as a child of God - for sins committed against our neighbors in the past and that continues even today. Spend time before the Lord, honestly, and ask, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24) Turn away from past sins and apathy, and turn to the Lord as we love our neighbors. Have a time of personal and corporate repentance (as a church) in the coming days as we pray for America.
Circumvent Apathy by Taking Action
We must no longer allow apathy to be a part of our lives when it comes to justice for our black brother and sister. We must move beyond awareness of issues. Awareness is a good place to start, but what I have seen too often is that awareness without action leads to apathy. So we must move into action and let our faith manifest deeds. There are many things we can do, and while not everyone will have the same role, each of us does have a role to play in bringing change for a better tomorrow. Some practical next steps can be to:
- Pray. Pray for them. Pray with them. Pray for a change in America.
- Fast and pray for our nation. Pray for peace and healing. Pray for leadership.
- Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom 12:21)
- Listen to your black neighbors. Hear their stories, stand with them, and walk with them.
- Voice your support for our black brothers and sisters (in person and online).
- Protest peacefully.
- Contact your local representatives and voice your concerns so we will see systemic change.
- Call out racism as you see it to keep others accountable.
- Message. Send a message to your African-American friends today. Let them know you care and will be there for them.
- Help clean up your communities as a church if physical damage occurred.
- Learn more about the issues (see booklist below)
Cement Your Hope in Christ
All the pain we are witnessing around us today is a clear sign that this world is fallen and broken because of sin and that we are in need of a Savior. It is also a reminder that our hope should not be in this temporary life we are in, but rather, in Christ who is King and in His Kingdom that is coming. Therefore, in this fallen world that is looking for hope, let us hold out the hope of the gospel to a watching world. Let us share the good news of Jesus - that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son to die on the cross for our sins, and that whoever would trust in Him, would receive everlasting life. Only the gospel can change the sinful heart and make it new again. Let us live out the gospel. “Let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and give glory to the Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) We need to see the Church living out the gospel now more than ever before. Fast and pray for this nation and for Christ’s return. Let's continue to cover our nation and our generation in prayer. Pray for salvation and revival to uproot racism from people's hearts. Pray that America would to bow to Jesus as Lord and Savior. This crisis is a cry for the Church to repent and pray and turn to the Lord.
Jesus is still on the Throne. He rules and reigns over all the cities and nations of this world. He is sovereign and He is good. And He will one day restore all things as they should. He is coming back one day soon to take all who trust in Him to reign with Him in His eternal Kingdom - a Kingdom where peoples from every tribe, tongue, and nation will bow before Him as King. Until that day, let us stay busy doing His work of righteousness and justice as we love God with all our hearts, and love our neighbors as ourselves.
There are many great books to read on these issues, but here are some I can recommend to start with:
- The Bible
- Do a word study on “justice” in the Bible or read chapter 1 and 2 of Justice Awakening where I provide a brief biblical overview on the topic.
- One Blood: Parting Words to the Church on Race by John Perkins
- Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (The film is free to watch in June)*
- How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Keni*
- Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup*
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander*
- Stride Towards Freedom by Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Dream with Me by John Perkins
- The Color of Compromise: The Truth About the American Church's Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby
*Note: These works are not Christian, but are helpful to understand some of the issues surrounding black-white racial relations throughout history.