There were many times in the Bible where Jesus was so deeply moved by compassion that he not only wept with his brothers and sisters, but his actions were formed out of this compassion. One example is in John 11:33, 35 when he is seen comforting Lazarus’ sister Mary. “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. Jesus wept.” Jesus didn’t just weep, he actually raised Lazarus from the dead—he was moved to action.
Our nation has been grieving from the recent murders of innocent black lives by the hands of police officers. The most recent being George Floyd on May 25th, which sparked unrest in America that has reverberated around the globe. There has never been a better time than right now to not just mourn with those who mourn but to use this compassion to drive us to action. The question remains—where do we go from here as a country and what can we do personally to make a difference?
The truth is there is no easy answer. There is no one size fits all solution; the reason being that this issue is layered and multifaceted. This is not just an isolated incident with one or two corrupt police officers. This is instead part of a broader pattern of institutionalized racism. What we are seeing is only the tip of the iceberg of a societal system whose infrastructure is founded upon, and driven by, mechanisms of inequality, prejudice and discrimination on the basis of race.
Although this problem seems endless and ginormous nothing is too big for our God.
A great first step to creating change in this country would be to have eyes to see. Isaiah 42:20 says, “You have seen many things, but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing.” It is hard to fix a problem when many in America do not see what has been going on for hundreds of years as a problem. I believe this is what it truly means to carry each other’s burdens. When our brothers and sisters of color’s problem become our problem, we are able to move together to create a solution.
Whenever we are trying to create change in any sector of our lives it often begins on the inside with the posture of our heart. The Bible says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Something everyone can do to create change is to look inside at any possible implicit biases you may have. Implicit bias is: when we have attitudes towards people or associate stereotypes of people without our conscious knowledge.
Some may remember a story of a little boy who was killed by an alligator in Florida in 2016. This was a tragic story! However, it was shocking how many people commented very hurtful and insensitive words towards the parents. Things like, “If they would have been watching this wouldn’t have happened?” or “They shouldn’t have been near the water so late at night.”
This line of thinking, while having hints of reason in them, give people an excuse to turn their compassion off and not feel the pain of the tragedy. They felt that if someone was to blame or if the incident in their eyes could have been plainly prevented that it gave them permission to harden their hearts and not feel compassionate. We see this again today. Explanations like, “If he wasn’t wearing a hood,” “If he would’ve been more respectful,” “If he would’ve complied,” “If he didn’t run.”
If there is one thing, we can do to move forward together united, it would be to never harden our hearts to the hurt, vulnerable and oppressed.
I think many people, myself included, have said or thought these words that allowed us to continue to turn a blind eye to injustice. Change can occur when we confront these biases, step outside of our neighborhoods and start being in relationship with people who do not look or think like us. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 it says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Our land needs so much healing and just as God’s word instructs, I think humility and a heart of repentance is the only way to move forward. Having that light bulb moment to our own implicit bias and then making the decision to confront those beliefs is the start. Then using our platforms and our privilege to speak out and raise our voices to injustice is the next step.
Sarah Jakes Roberts says this perfectly, “Every conflict comes down to a difference in thought. You can stick to your position or you can have the humility to lay down your need to defend yourself and instead ask God to show you truth. Even if the truth means you must humble yourself, apologize, learn and grow. Never be so committed to your position that you miss out on transformation.”
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