As a ministry leader who calls Minneapolis home, I am challenged and encouraged by the peaceful protesters who are standing up against racism and injustice across America. I stand with them, and I want to encourage other pastors to do the same.
Racism is a sin that needs to be called out from the pulpit and on the television, the radio and social media.
To the countless pastors leading these efforts: Thank you for using your platform to remind us all to live like Jesus.
The historic silence of many predominantly white churches in America has only deepened division, as our people are not confronted with the racism that exists in all of us. Those outside the white church often interpret our silence as complicity. We cannot be silent about injustice because Jesus is our example and our leader.
More than 2,000 years ago, Jesus left heaven to enter a mess he did not make, to reconcile a broken world to a holy God. For those who want to relate with the “mess they didn’t make” part, realize that racism is an original sin of this great land we call America. If you call this country your home, it’s part of your story. And while many want to talk about some idyllic past, those days weren’t good for those whose ancestors were enslaved, whose grandparents were forced to drink from segregated water fountains and to sit in the back of the bus, and who have been treated as less than their entire life because of their skin tone.
Racism is against the heart of God
The Bible is clear that all people are made in God’s image. Racism and oppression are against the heart of God, who does not tolerate injustice. Our Gospel is only worth believing if it confronts the evil in this fallen world.
Of course, we must all condemn the crimes of vandalism and looting. Nonetheless, we must be even louder in our condemnation of the evil sin of racism, and it begins with praying the prayer of Psalm 139: Search my heart, Oh God, and see if there is any wicked way in me.
The hurt in our nation didn’t start with George Floyd, and it will not be healed by a few marches or social media posts. It demands repentance and conscious change. And if the white church isn’t first to confront the sin within, then how can our nation ever hope to move forward?
This is why I encourage you to support your pastor in standing with those who stand against injustice. And if the Gospel isn’t reason enough, here are a few more:
►We need people of peace amid those intent on evil. In the midst of the majority of peaceful protesters, there are those whose aim is destruction. I have friends who are law-abiding, caring police officers, and they are afraid for their lives. We need men and women of faith on the ground to minister and proclaim peace during this chaotic time.
►We need prayer on the ground. Make no mistake — racism is evil. We can’t allow this moment to drive the wedge of hate and division in our nation even further in than it was before. While intercessory prayer is needed and powerful, we need people physically offering prayer on the ground and in the midst of conflict.
►We need people of faith standing to protect those who are protesting peacefully. With tensions running high, many are vulnerable to do or to say things they normally wouldn’t do or say, including our police officers. I have been in these situations, and protest leaders often ask people in the crowd to stand on the edges for protection. This is an opportunity for us to protect all involved.
►We need people of faith standing in the gap so we can know the real story. In an age where the news media tends to favor the sensational over the good, we need truth tellers who can report what they see and hear. Personally, I can attest to the remarkable good I see happening on the streets of Minneapolis and how our urban ministry leaders need our support now.
People across America are hurting. Jesus loves and died for these men, women and children. If we are Christians, then we are called to mourn with those who mourn and to speak up on behalf of the oppressed. Our stand may not be popular with many. But it’s a stand the Gospel calls us to take.