It has been another remarkable week. Protests against racism and police brutality continue around the world, and there is a new groundswell of popular interest in and support for anti-racist efforts.
As Christians, we gladly join in these efforts as a simple outworking of the gospel in our cultural context. For the church, to proclaim and embody that “Black lives matter” should be a simple, non-controversial proclamation of the gospel into our specific context. And to work for justice should be a simple, non-controversial outworking of our Lord’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves.
I hope it’s not a flash in the pan. I’m praying and hoping and learning how to work for the long-term systemic change we need to ensure that we don’t go “back to normal” in a few weeks.
I find myself cautiously encouraged by the mass support we are seeing for justice right now. Mitt Romney marched with Black Lives Matter protesters. NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from races. Confederate monuments are coming down all over the US. Branches of the military are banning the display of the Confederate flag. The president of the Southern Baptist Convention (!!) urged members to say “Black lives matter” as an urgent gospel issue. The editor of Christianity Today is calling for Christians to practice restitution (not just repentance) for racism.
As Jemar Tisby has been saying, “Something different is happening this time…”
And while some celebrities and politicians might be jumping on the anti-racism bandwagon only to garner fans or votes, and least ?this? is the bandwagon! As the Apostle Paul said about those who were preaching Christ for false motives while he was in prison, “What does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice?” (Phil 1:18).
So I’m rejoicing that so many are affirming that Black lives matter right now. I’m also lamenting that it has taken this long. I’m also repenting, because I’m part of the problem. My ignorance and reluctance to stand in solidarity with my Black sisters and brothers in the past has delayed justice.
As I “cautiously rejoice” at what we’re seeing right now, I’m also listening soberly to those who have been in this struggle a lot longer than me who are saying that a lot more is needed. Marching in protests and posting on social media alone won’t bring about the systemic change we need to unravel 400 years of racialized terror and trauma.
Let’s keep repenting and lamenting and praying and hoping and listening and learning how to do the long term work of justice.