James 1:19-20 “My dear brothers and sisters take note of this. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
I am letting this piece of scripture lead me through this period in our history. God is always my go-to in life, but He for sure is my sanctuary, teacher, and safe haven when dealing with difficult and anxious times like these. I have spent a great deal of energy praying over the last two weeks regarding race in our country. I have asked God to remove any blinders from my eyes when it comes to race and to please speak into my heart anything He wants me to learn. I have researched facts on racism and the police, I have listened to podcasts and watched youtube videos put out by Black Americans, I have watched the news and read countless news articles. I have been quick to listen.
I have also been slow to speak. I have not posted my thoughts on social media and I did not post at all on the blog last week. I think a conversation on such an important topic like race in America is best suited for face-to-face interaction. I will, however, use this blog to make a statement about the death of George Floyd and also to share a few thoughts and observations as we begin to move forward.
First, my thoughts on the death of George Floyd.
George Floyd was inhumanely murdered by a person who was paid to protect all citizens. Derek Chauvin should be prosecuted and sent to jail for the rest of his life. This was a horrendous and senseless death. It should have never happened.
Second, a few thoughts and observations moving forward.
- I think we need to remember that we live in an imperfect world and people may not always live up to our expectations. We are ALL SINNERS! People are not perfect. You are not perfect and neither am I. Only God is perfect. Jesus said in John 8:7: “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” He was speaking to a group of people who wanted to stone a woman who had committed adultery. One by one, the people dropped their stones and stepped away, because they knew each of them had sinned. Right now, people are hurling stones like crazy! We may not all be guilty of racism, but if we are being honest, each of us is guilty of bias in our lives. It could be the color of one’s skin, the way a person dresses, a person’s weight, a person’s profession, or where one lives, etc. We judge others and make assumptions about one another, each and every day. We are ALL guilty of it. Perhaps, instead of quickly pointing fingers at others and calling out people for every questionable tweet or quote—we should take a hard look in the mirror. Perhaps we should think about the ways we ourselves judge others. What are the jokes we told and laughed at or the assumptions about others we made in the past? Doesn’t the real work start within ourselves? We cannot control what others think or do, but we can control our own hearts and minds.
- Social media should be treated with the utmost care. If we refer back to the scripture from James we are told to be slow to speak. Some people have been posting constantly and reposting every meme out there on Black Lives Matters. Some of these posts are genuine, but some of them are just plain false. I know this statement may stir up controversy, but some of these things can be fact-checked and some of it is just not true. Emotions are high, and I understand how quickly and easily people can begin to just post and post and post. Another issue with posting so much can be found in the book of Matthew. Matthew 6:1 reminds us to, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” God wants us to do good works or donate money for good because we are moved to do so by the Holy Spirit. We are not told by God to scream from the hilltops every time we stand up for injustice. We are also definitely not told to post things like: “If you don’t post about Black Lives Matters then you are a racist.” or “Silence is violence.” or “Which side of history will you be on?”. These are awful things to say, are meant to shame others and do not help solve the problem whatsoever. Sometimes the best work is being done in silence. For example, prayer, financial donations, volunteerism, or just greeting your fellow American with a wave and a smile is 1,000 times more effective and meaningful than any post on social media.
- If standing up against racism is your passion, and this moment in history has sparked a fire in you, I think that is wonderful. I thank you for working to make our world a better place for all races. I pray that you would remember the words of James and be slow to anger throughout your journey. We have seen a ton of anger in recent weeks, much of it is justified and some—not so much. Anger doesn’t solve problems, good communication and self-control do. I would also ask that there not be anger towards others who are not as impassioned as you regarding race in America. This movement may not be everyone’s biggest passion and that should be okay. There are many injustices in this world and we all can’t be fired up about all of them. For some of us, our passion may be the treatment of the homeless, for some it may be working with special needs children, others may have a true passion for caring for our elderly, and others’ greatest passion may be helping the mentally ill—just to name a few. I have a great passion in my heart for the unborn child. Please don’t vilify or blindly call people racist just because they are not protesting like you or posting on social media about Black Lives Matters. Some people may just not believe in the organization of Black Lives Matters and all that it stands for. They may still care deeply about equal treatment for Black Americans but may not trust the organization itself.
Finally, I want to say that I am no expert on what it is to be Black in America. I know I have not walked in their footsteps, I have not had the same experiences as them. I do feel for the Black community and I do want all Black Americans to feel loved, accepted, and equal. I also want them to be successful and happy. What are REAL ways we can help? What are the issues in our country that need to change in order to make this happen? I hope that soon, we can move past riots, pointing fingers, and posts on social media to real discussions on how to make a positive change. I think being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger might be a great jumping-off point. What do you think?