Following the death of George Floyd, the country has been figuratively and literally ablaze. From the video, his death looked unjustified, the force excessive. I condemn that categorically, and am glad to see the police officer charged. Conversations with friends and brothers have had my mind racing on topics like racism, protests, action, and the gospel. In this article, I would like to offer first thoughts on how to react biblically.
I started out examining by what standard I should rally around various social causes, because the call to action is coming from everywhere. It is loud and urgent, but also muddled and confused like an orchestra with each instrument playing its own melody. I still think it is a worthwhile topic to deal with, but I also realized that there are steps I can and should take now. To be more concise, I am limiting the context to the church. More can be said about how the culture is reacting, but that is not my primary concern. Let’s start with what I know.
Brothers and sisters are hurting. At this point, whether the cause of the pain is real or perceived, whether statistics exist to support or weaken that cause, is irrelevant. There is a time to include all these considerations in the following months and years, when emotions have leveled a bit. For now, I can weep with those who weep, as Paul writes in Romans 12:15. This may include learning about their experiences with racism, without in any way diminishing my own unique background. This last point has been difficult for me. I do not quite know why, because it is uncharacteristic of me to be self-centered—as an introvert, I much prefer being in the background—but my tendency as an immigrant has been to ask “what about me and my experiences? Do I not add cultural diversity, even though my skin is white?” I am not yet convinced that bringing my experiences to the table is irrelevant, but for now I think it is okay to postpone it. Maybe I will address it in a future article.
I also know that defining our language is important. Phrases like “social justice” or “black lives matter” may have different meanings depending on who I talk to, so definitions are crucial. Thoughtless empathy is not helpful long-term. This means we need to get smart on the issues at hand on a deeper level. At a minimum, look up the definitions of words or phrases commonly used. If organizations are involved, go to their websites and read “About Us” pages and look for core beliefs. This will not take long and enable you to start thinking biblically about the issues. If you read fast, grab a book or two on the topic. If you do not know where to start, ask a brother or sister for recommendations.
In my limited survey, I have come across a couple of beneficial resources. The first is the Just Thinking Podcast episode about George Floyd. It is a calm, biblical look at the issue as a whole. As Darrell and Virgil mention in that episode, they have tackled race issues many times before, so peruse the archive to find them if you are interested. They are all good. The second resource that was most helpful to me is Shai Linne’s article on The Gospel Coalition. It is honest and raw, yet biblical, again something sorely missing from the social media blurbs. I share Shai’s frustration, though obviously not entirely for the same reasons. I want to respond graciously and humbly to Christians like Shai, and I appreciate his openness and faithfulness to the Scriptures, one reason I have been following and supporting him for a while now.
Writing this has been helpful to me in trying to figure out how to react now. I pray it also provides clarity to you. I am still working through many of the issues and hope to follow up with more articles in the future. I appreciate being able to have messy discussions with friends and brothers (and remain friends and brothers afterwards!) and look forward to more of that, ideally in person. Soli Deo Gloria!