Black Lives Matter
George Floyd was killed on the 25th May by a Police officer who accused him of using a fake $20 note. George’s death sparked global protests, with positive and negative outcomes. Positively it has enabled people from different races to stand together against racism, negatively a hand full of people have used the protests to start riots, destroy property and loot businesses.
What does the gospel have to say about Black Lives Matter?
1. The phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ is an important rebalancing, as the Bible tells us that we are all made in the image of God. Everyone is created with the same worth and dignity; whatever the colour of our skin, our age (unborn, young or old), our gender, our ability, our mental health, who we are attracted to, all of us are valued and loved by God.
2. There are no second class people in God’s eyes, which is one of the ways we differ from God as in our sin we constantly judge and put a value on others. By making us unique God is able to display his endless creativity, which is something to marvel at, yet in our sin we fear the difference or use it to discriminate.
3. Racism and sexism are not a thing of the past, until Jesus returns we will have to live with prejudice and injustice. I have loved living in cities full of diversity and it is easy as a privileged white person to think that serious racism is a thing of the past. Yet it is George’s death and seeing it on the bus, at a church and online that remind me it has not gone anywhere.
4. As Christians the gospel gives us confidence that there will be an end to racism and prejudice when Jesus returns. This is not like my wishful thinking, but it is guaranteed. If Jesus is to judge and put right every wrong, then this injustice along with all others will be put right.
How should we respond?
1. Empathy – (yet knowing most of us will never truly understand)
We have all seen frustrations overflow and certain actions or words trigger a response from us. George Floyd’s death is not the last time that people of colour will encounter prejudice in their day-to-day lives. So we need to try and understand and empathise.
Prayer is powerful and it is one of the most effective things we can do. So pray! Pray for those who face prejudice every day and whose lives will continue to be a battle for survival and a battle to be respected and heard. God will hear our prayers and he will answer them. Although we must be prepared for him to be at work in our own lives too, which may be painful.
3. Share the message of Jesus, his love and forgiveness
Jesus Christ offers us a new start, he died whilst we were still his enemies. So let us pray for the pain, hurt and frustrations experienced by those who suffer because of the colour of their skin, but let us also hold up to God those who feel justified in abusing and demeaning people because of some difference.
4. Speak out
Because God is a just God we need to stand against injustice, sometimes at great cost. We do not want to be a silent supporter, when we should be a vocal opposition. The silence of the Church in Germany during the Holocaust and the silence of the Church in South Africa during apartheid allowed evil and injustice to thrive. So let us speak to those in power, be ready to speak to our friends, families, in our communities and workplaces.
5. Admit our failure
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the right Reverend Justin Welby earlier this year said “When we look at our church we are still deeply, institutionally racist.” He went on to give a personal apology. He said, “I am ashamed of our history, and I am ashamed of our failure.”
Imagine the effect on institutions and businesses if we spoke like Justin, admitting and confronting racism. This in itself is a significant step in healing and restoring divisions and hatred. So let us pray for political leaders and all those with power that they would help to eradicate racial bias and work to support those affected by it.
Thank you to Pastor Agu Irukwu who inspired me to write this piece.