Who could have imagined the past four months in America?
The murder of George Floyd was like the last step on weak ice before it splinters and cracks. There are so many things happening, so many narratives and sub-narratives running in and around this crisis. It’s truly historic. The foundation of the landscape I’ve lived under all the 49 years of my life is shifting.
This new cultural moment brings with it a new frontier for ministry. There are many voices saying different things, but God’s view of race is the only one we must love, learn, and lead from.
The whole, beautifully diverse human race bears the image of God. And for the blood-bought church of Christ, it’s even deeper — we are family. We’re united with Jesus, so we’re united with one another. Our eternal bond is stronger than any skin color or genetic heritage.
So how will we respond to this moment? How will we walk forward in the light of love, for our king’s glory?
Connect and Collaborate
We don’t get to retreat to our separate corners; that’s not a biblical option. And we don’t want to merely react. Yes, we look at the moment, but we look to Jesus and respond according to his Word.
Pastors, it’s time to connect and collaborate. We need to intentionally listen to and love each other enough to be uncomfortable. Dr. Tony Evans says this:
“Oneness, in a nation structured by the confines of racial autonomy, necessitates that our knowledge of and love for each other must be intentional in nature, just as Jesus’ was with the woman at the well. When we come together, unbelievers will see that Christianity is not a secret, and that God alone can jettison centuries of misguided beliefs and traditions. Only then will our unity wash the fabric of our nation’s landscape not only on a personal level, but also in our families, churches, and in our communities at large.”
We need to get together. We need an old-school family reunion with laughs and jokes, tears and prayers. When there’s a crisis in the family, the family gathers to work it out. There will be hugs that end in arguments, and arguments that end in hugs. But our Christ-won unity can wash the very “fabric of our nation’s landscape.” Let’s fight for that unity.
I’m going to lay some groundwork today, because we want to equip our Acts 29 family of churches to pursue gospel-driven unity. Watch for follow-up articles expanding on each of these points in the coming months.
A Moment Compelled by History
This current moment in history is driven by history. It’s time to take an honest and comprehensive look at the sinful assumptions, prejudice, and idolatry that have occurred not just in the world, but in the church, too.
If we’re going to walk forward in the light of love, we must have this conversation. Being pruned and disciplined by our Father isn’t easy, but it does yield “the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11). Let’s “strive for peace with everyone” (v. 14) as we come together as a family to listen and learn.
A Hard Moment
Statistics can’t come before shepherding in the church. People are hurting. Shepherding takes into consideration the unrecorded statistics: the put-downs, accusations, false arrests, past trauma, physical violence, and obscene comments that people of color across our nation deal with regularly. These are the undocumented wounds.
We need to listen to the cries of our family and weep with those who weep. If your sister is grieving a stillborn baby, you wouldn’t dream of telling her that her loss is statistically rare so she should get over it and move on. We are painfully missing the point if we tell Black people fearful of police brutality that they shouldn’t be scared, or exhausted police that they have no right to feel worn down.
Our words should resonate with kindness. Times are hard, but we’re on the same team and running for the same prize. A loving family listens gently and comforts the hurting.
A Healing Moment
Healing can happen when, united in Christ, we actually come together. We don’t follow the world—that drives a wedge. We look to Jesus, we remember our kinship in him. Disagreements don’t cripple people who know they’re united in Christ and pursue the same goal of obedience to God’s Word.
Relationships can’t be mediated through ministry, politics, social media platforms, or social justice. Real healing happens in embodied relationships, through Jesus alone. We need to connect in order to collaborate and move forward.
A Hopeful Moment
We are saved, sustained, and disciplined by the almighty power of our Creator. It’s not our work, our love, or our faithfulness. It’s none of that. Christ loves his Bride and he will accomplish his work. When we feel hopeless, we know that he is our hope.
Jesus himself is the cement that binds us together as family, and the unshakeable foundation for our collaboration.
So, pastors, call family meetings in your church body. Look for Black and Brown people to help you process these things. Find Black and Brown congregations in your town and listen. Right now Coronavirus has us all on Zoom, so let’s use it to the glory of Christ.
When we can meet in person again, we need long talks over good food and coffee. A family, centered on God’s Word and united by his power, walks forward in the light of love.
The church’s connection and collaboration reveal our unity in Jesus. People are confused and despairing right now, longing for hope, answers, and genuine relationships in today’s challenging racial landscape. May our churches be families of refuge for a world in need of hope and home.