Six days ago, a brother in Christ, George Floyd, was killed by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota as they detained him for suspicion of forgery. Officers who had sworn to protect and serve.
With his dying breaths he cried out for his mother—who had died two years ago. “Momma, I’m through!”, he gasped.
Floyd’s unjust death has sparked protests and riots throughout the country—from Minneapolis to Atlanta to New York City. For the last 4 nights cities have burned and dozens have been arrested.
An overwhelming majority of those who have gathered to protest Floyd’s death and the systemic racism that led to it have done so peacefully. Unfortunately and maddeningly, more and more reports are surfacing that those who are setting fires, looting, and inciting violence are outside, often white agitators seeking to take advantage of this situation and use it to advance their sick and twisted racist and political agendas.
All of this is happening, of course, because of the disease, the sickness of racism that has been part of American culture almost since its inception. A disease that has never really gone away—despite some progress made by the extreme sacrifice of many—most notably those involved in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
Day in and day out our black brothers and sisters—and other persons of color—face discrimination, bigotry, vitriol, and even death simply because of the color of their skin. And it must stop!
Yes, we have been here before. Yes, little has changed. Yes, there is plenty of reason to be fatalistic about it all. But that doesn’t mean we can simply accept this as part of life. Indeed, it is an affront to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ if we do.
Those of us who are white—who have privilege simply because of the color of our skin—MUST leverage that privilege on behalf of our brothers and sisters of color. We cannot stay silent. We cannot simply accept the status quo. We cannot stand idly by while others live their lives in fear and die senselessly. While others live in poverty and squalor. While they are denied the divine image God has placed within them. These are children of God just as much as you and me!
We must demand justice and change. We must stand shoulder to shoulder with the oppressed. We must be willing to sacrifice our own comfort and status. We must fight for what is right—for the ushering in of the kingdom of God!
Why? Because: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” AND “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” (Matthew 25: 40,45 NRSV) Because, you see, they are Jesus!
Today we celebrate Pentecost—the giving of the Spirit to the disciples and apostles of Jesus Christ and to the world—the birthday of the Church! Or as one believer put it on Twitter yesterday: “the beginning of a liberative organization led by black and brown young adults who were accused of drunkenness and disorderly conduct in the wake of the murder of a brown man by corrupt law enforcement.” (@theodramatist)
We have been given the Spirit, you and I, not a spirit that is timid but one that is powerful, loving, and self-controlled (2 Timothy 1:7 CEB). A spirit that challenges and emboldens us to speak truth to power. To demand and to work for justice. To advocate for those who are voiceless and powerless. To put an end to racism.
The nation is desperate for leaders who will put an end to this injustice, this disease, this death. Let it be the Church. Let it be us!