I am reading my way through the Bible in my annual quest of the Good book. I’m in the prophets who are proclaiming judgment in Israel for their unfaithfulness to God and His covenant through their pursuing other gods. In doing so, they are also abusing the poor and vulnerable in their land. I can’t help reading this and then looking out at America and seeing those same sins in our country.
This whole summer was one issue after another issue of racial strife. People killed, officials hurt, families exhausted, even religious communities at odds. There is no end of blame going around…even in houses of worship.
The problem is deep and I don’t know that those of us who should see the depth of the problem actually do.
Look at our responses and the consequences…
Recently a dear friend of mine shared that his sons are really becoming embittered over the thoughtless, shortsighted comments professing Christian people are making online. I’ve seen those comments also and wondered at the thoughtlessness of the comments. We need to be and do better!
Racial flash points are no longer just about individuals! The drama is also about America. You may disagree with how some people react to the tensions, but for those who have lived through and felt the pain of systemic inequality or injustice, it absolutely is about systemic things such as racism and systemic inequities that are way beyond my ability to understand much less “fix.”
So what do we do?
Excuse my over simplification but I wonder… What would Jesus do?
- He probably wouldn’t be making comments on the internet that took sides, that oversimplify and only further complicate the problem. The “sides” are being imbued with baggage beyond the presenting situation. You might be giving a good argument but is it built upon asking the wrong questions.
- He might not be marching, torching or even overturning tables. Certainly hurting shopkeepers does not bring justice. The wrath of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God.
- He would acknowledge systemic inequities but I doubt He would venture a political/economic/social systemic fix. Rather, He would hold people to personal right choices in the same way He told soldiers and tax collectors (notorious system abusers) to not take advantage of their positions.
- One thing I truly think Jesus would do is lament. As He did for Lazarus and as He did for Jerusalem. Jesus wept for an individual but also for systemic national sin.
May we professing Christians do the same!
I am a man of hope. Until the day the trumpet sounds we have an opportunity to get it right. Not only am I a man of hope, but I know that the Lord is merciful and long suffering.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Alex Mandes is collaborating with others for a breakout session about reaching all people at the 2016 District Conference.