As images of the riots resulting from the death of George Floyd take over the media, I’m compelled to search God’s Word for answers to those hurting, and frankly, to those doing the hurting on both sides.
As a Christian watching all of the videos of the violence, this week I found myself wondering how many of the police officers, rioters, politicians, and everyday Americans who are just watching things unfold like myself, identify themselves as Christians. The reason why my mind found itself wandering to this question is because the Bible is so clear that one of the profound effects of the Gospel is to break down the barriers that divide people, and not just when it comes to race, but in all things. This is most clearly stated in Galatians 3:28.
Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ.”
Take this one step further, and in Galatians 5:6, Paul gives the answer to the only thing that matters in this life. That is, if you’re a Christian and love your fellow human beings that are created in God’s image.
Galatians 5:6 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”
What Paul is referring to here is the rite of circumcision specifically given to the Jews by God. In those days, this was considered part of Jewish identity. It’s one of the things that made you Jewish, and therefore one of the special chosen people of God. The problem is the Jewish people of the day took this symbol and made it into a justification to treat anyone uncircumcised as different and not as good as the Jews. Paul is calling this out in his letter to the Galatians that now there is a new symbol everyone should be known by…and that symbol is faith working through love. Love for our fellow man should be a priority for the Christian. In fact, it’s a command from Jesus for all who call upon His name.
John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This is God’s word, plain and clear. So in a country where a significant percentage of the population still claims to be Christian, how did we get here? How did we get to a point where people are openly, and unapologetically, killing each other in the streets, destroying other people’s property, and calling each other hateful labels?
And as I pondered this question in my heart, something troubling kept rising into my conscience. It’s something that has actually been bothering me for quite some time even before this latest tragedy of hatred sweeping across the country.
Many of these same people on TV and social media engaged in this hatred of one another are the same people that grew up in our churches. They attended our services where the Word is preached, our Sunday School classes where the Word is supposed to be expanded on to reach the heart even further, and even more importantly for this generation, in our Youth Groups where the mission was supposed to be to introduce and instill the character and values of Christ into young minds so that love would prevail instead of the violence we are seeing now. So what went wrong? Can we not not admit as a Church that something went wrong?
Maybe that’s the first thing that we need to reckon with. Repentance from sins of omission so to speak. We omitted God’s Word from our churches, and instead chose to preach and teach self-esteem instead of sacrificial love. We placed more importance on music instead of mission. We emphasized humor over humility.
In other words, we chose to become a clown at the circus instead of a light in the darkness. This hurts to hear it I know, but until the Church reckons with our failure within the context of our culture today, we will continue to have no impact for Christ and that should be very concerning.
What we have right now is a complete and utter lack of leadership by Christians on critical topics affecting our loved ones, our neighbors, and our communities. We have lost our authority to speak on these things because we have not been speaking on them all along. Christians need to take ownership that we could have prevented this. We can attempt to put these people at a distance like the Jews did to the uncircumcised, but the reality is the future Derek Chauvins and George Floyds, the 2 people at the center of this current tragedy, are in our churches right now.
If we don’t have the courage to preach and teach real truth, the kind of of truth, as the Book of Hebrews says, “…is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and the intentions of the heart”, then maybe we need to step away and make room for those who will.
I know it sounds cliche, but the quote, “serious times call for serious people” could not be more relevant.
So Church…are we ready to be serious people?