Note from Jeff:
America is once again filled with racial tension today in the aftermath of yet another apparent case of police brutality against a black man, George Floyd.
The purpose of this blog is not to address current affairs in the news, and I can assure you that is not why we are addressing this. The purpose of this blog is to minister to our Anchor Point Church family, a large portion of whom are hurting this week and need our spiritual support.
With that in mind, please take a few minutes to read this insightful, sensitive, and helpful guest blog by Lenz Daniel, a brother in Christ of color on our staff who does an amazing job addressing this issue spiritually.
We love you, Lenz, and we’re grateful for this timely contribution to all of us at a time when the world is watching how interracial churches like ours will handle situations like these.
“Not again…” processing yet another injustice
(by Lenz Daniel)
I put my face in my hands with frustration and sadness because yet another black man was killed at the hands of police.
My initial thoughts are “Not again…”
It’s the same story we’ve heard before. But it doesn’t get less tragic or painful.
My heart drops because I hope things will change…but they don’t.
How do we approach going through the same pain, repeatedly?
God’s vision for the world and his people are the only things that make sense of tragedy.
However you view this tragedy, someone who bears God’s image lost his life and dignity. As God’s people, let’s not shy away from confronting this world’s fallen state. Let’s share and let’s listen.
My prayer and my hope in writing this is that no matter your skin color, race, gender, political affiliation, or socioeconomic status, you can read along with an open mind and heart.
Process the Pain
It’s easy to see the stories on the news or watch these tragic events and become completely detached from the pain. We, the black community, have been hurt so much in recent years. So, for me, detaching is an attempt to feel strong or to believe that I’m ‘over it’ and it no longer grips me with the same pain.
However, if God grieves, doesn’t that mean that we should too?
In Genesis 6, God is fully aware of how far His creation has fallen and looks at the world and is grieved by it (verses 5-6). And since God is unchanging (see Malachi 3:6 and Hebrews 13:8), it is safe to assume that He is grieving and hurting now. God shares those feelings with us.
In the wake of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, it is important to remember that God loves these individuals much more than we do. He feels the pain the hardest; there’s anger, frustration, pain and sadness. God is not only grieving, but He is grieving alongside us.
Because our God is actively taking part in this tragedy with us, it should bring us comfort when we pray and think of the faces of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and many others who have passed tragically.
To my black brothers and sisters, it may feel difficult to get up again and again. After another tragedy, maybe you share the same sentiments as I do and you’re “over it.”
To help carry the heaviness of tragedy, the church is called to fulfill the law of Christ by bearing one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). So, the process of getting up after another tragedy isn’t done alone.
As a young black man, I want to deal with issues of race by looking at it from my own perspective. With indignation I want to assess the problem and place responsibility or blame on the individuals or systems that caused this tragedy.
But what if I’m solving the wrong problem or placing blame in the wrong directions?
My misguided efforts to problem solve may actually contribute to the problem, creating an ‘us’ against ‘them’ mentality.
Or maybe to put it bluntly, I tend to create enemies in my minds because of my fallen behavior.
The truth is that there is a system or entity that co-opts the good things in this world that God provides and creates disorder. And that disruptive system, which the Bible calls “the world”, is set up and orchestrated by “the prince of this world (John 14:30)”, Satan himself.
Satan’s prime objective is to bring chaos – what better way to do this then to disunify all people? Satan takes the beauty of diversity and turns it on its head, creating divisions, factions and racism.
To my non-black brothers and sisters, I believe we need to recognize that a loss of life will always be a tragedy, and that pointing fingers has a higher chance of contributing to Satan’s goal of perpetuating division than solving this issue.
In Ephesians 6:12 Paul makes us aware of how Satan operates: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
If we don’t identify and name the problem that is Satan, we tend to lose awareness of his insidious behavior. We need to recognize that Satan aims to tear down humanity and God’s creation. Satan needs to be mentioned, not to feed into fear, but to seek awareness of how we could possibly fall into his schemes and into the chaos he is trying to create (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Healing and Hope
What do we do now?
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he told them to pray for his Kingdom to come and his will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:10). This was a calling for all followers of Jesus to bring heaven and all its goodness to those who couldn’t understand it.
In times of turmoil and strife, Heaven is brought to earth by seeking a ministry of reconciliation. Paul knows that reconciliation is the only way to bridge the gap between diverse people, ease racial tensions, and heal its wounds (see 2 Corinthians 5:17-21). It’s this reconciliation that can break down the powers and authorities that Satan has control over.
The power of forgiveness
When thinking about this, I often reflect on the Botham Jean case. Botham Jean was an innocent man who was killed in his apartment building by an off-duty police officer. At the end of the case, Botham Jean’s brother approaches the female police officer who took his brother’s life and offers forgiveness. In a moment where racial tension could have been perpetuated, he broke the bonds of sin and represented Christlikeness to those who were watching.
Many people are watching us now and how we handle this tragedy. Forgiveness has a far greater impact than just letting go. It’s a taste of the future Hope we have in the resurrection, where there will be no more tears and all wrongs will be righted.
Wherever you find yourself on the map, I invite you to allow God to participate with you in this tragedy.
First, pray. Allow God to participate in your emotions through prayer. Recognize that this issue of racism isn’t against flesh and blood, but that Satan is leveraging his will of tearing down God’s creation.
Then, take part in the ministry of reconciliation by creating helpful dialogue about race with mixed company and understanding each other without judgment, and offering forgiveness if you’re struggling with others during this time.
Finally, place your hope in heaven and its realities. Believe in the sustaining truth that His Kingdom will come, His will be done, and that Heaven will be brought down to earth one day.