My spirit is conflicted.
I’ve started to write about the brutal killings of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd dozens of times. I’ve prayed, read scripture and prayed, talked to brothers who look like me and who don’t. I’ve prayed, read statements from others, watched videos, listened to podcasts and sermons and talked to my family. And yet the words don’t come. There’s a heaviness to this that I can’t explain and don’t know how to resolve.
Racism is sin.
Personal and systemic racism played a role in each of these heinous deaths. Racism is ugly sin. It’s an abomination to God and inconsistent with the way we are called to live as followers of Christ. And, I’m guilty. In my ignorance I’ve had biased thoughts and been an offender far more often than I’d like to admit or even fully understand.
My heart is troubled for my African American friends and especially their sons and grandsons. No one should be fearful of the very people who are both paid and sworn to serve and protect. But the situation is complex, as I also grieve with my brothers over the reckless destruction caused by folks who hijacked peaceful protests and turned them into rioting, violence and looting.
I know I can’t fully understand or appreciate the frustration, anger, discouragement or hurt, but I want to learn more. It is powerful, humbling, challenging and even embarrassing at times to get to know someone different from me well enough for them to trust me with their story.
And here’s what I know; every man has a story.
I would love to have heard George Floyd’s story. Sure, we’ve gotten bits and pieces of his story, including his faith journey, through media. But I would have loved to have heard it from him. I would also have liked to hear Ahmed Aubrey’s story. What were his dreams? His passions? His joys? His beliefs? And lest we forget, each of those police officers and the two men in Georgia have stories as well. So do the protestors and even the rioters. We should go out of our way to truly know and be known by folks who are not like us.
When I survey the landscape, I shake my head and lament that most of the players in this drama are men.
But so many are living out a broken manhood that takes rather than gives. I’m reminded of 1 Corinthians 15:45… Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam a life-giving spirt.
Those who live in the shadow of the first Adam are simply ‘living beings’ taking what they can get; looking out for number one. If we live in the shadow of Christ, we should be life-givers. Things should get better because we should see people the way He sees people, and others should be blessed, encouraged and feel safe in our presence.
When a man walks faithfully with Christ others are always affected.
Men, if you claim the name of Christ, pray with me (and for me and each other). We each need clear revelation from God about how we can be life-giving men at the individual, family, church and community level. Listen with me; learn from God.
One of the pastors I spoke with talked about the fact that each of us have to engage this battle in the context of our assignment. We aren’t all politicians, government officials, business owners or pastors.
God may call you to some new role in response to these injustices but at the very minimum, we should all do more than we have been right where we are.
What is He calling you to do? Remember, The Noble Man makes Noble Plans and by Noble Deeds he stands. Isaiah 32:8
God’s got some work for me to do on myself, with my family, in my church and in the larger community and culture.
So, what is your assignment?
Here are a few helpful resources…
White Parents, Talk to Your White Kids About George Floyd – Michael Kelley
A Message From My Heart – Tony Evans
Undivided – North American Mission Board