June 3, 2020
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
- Martin Luther King in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
Over the last three months, there have been several and continue to be at large injustices and inequalities that have created for many of us anxiety, fear, and hopelessness. Like many of you, I’ve found myself going through the five stages of grief…over and over again. Without any doubt, some of the injustices have been personal for us. Injustices have included the murders of three black Americans (Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd), over 40 million Americans unemployed, radical riots that have overshadowed peaceful protests, and the murders of two law enforcement officers (David Dorn and Stephen Williams). The events have impacted me because of the conversations that I have each day, week, and month. I am convinced that the last three months have been tough and heart-breaking but not hopeless. Allow me a minute to explain why.
As followers of Jesus, like Martin Luther King, we have an example of how to handle injustice. Jesus elevated grace, empathy, forgiveness, and compassion in a very tough first-century atmosphere. It was not a free market, capitalistic society, with a constitution providing freedoms; instead, it was full of racism, sexism, and terrorism. Jesus elevated empathy as He would heal Romans and Samaritans, He elevated compassion as He showed Himself first to the women after His resurrection, He elevated forgiveness to those who brutally crucified Him, and He elevated grace to Simon, who was part of a violent political party zealous for Jewish independence.
This is the Gospel—Jesus rescuing us from our sin and empowering us to live for Him. It’s a life marked by elevating grace, empathy, forgiveness, and compassion to those like us, not like us, who don’t like us, and those we don’t like. The Gospel provides hope.
So there are a few practical things we all can do as we live out the Gospel:
- Pray. Prayer is powerful as we loosen our grip on what we cannot control and trust God with it. Prayer, when done right, leaves us open-handed. Prayer is more than a “one-and-done” approach. Jesus was clear that we should always pray and never give up (Luke 18:1).
- Consider a conversation with someone of a different hue and view than you. This is time for us to remember James 1:19: “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” A good way to do this is to ask questions first rather than sharing your opinion. It’s important to know the facts before saying anything or posting something. I do this regularly with those who have different political and religious views than me. I do this regularly with those who have a different hue than me. When faced with tension, I strive to be more humble.
- Do something, not just say something. I invite you to do something. There are opportunities that we’ve provided as a church, and there are opportunities in our community to do something that makes the Gospel-centered life—a life marked by elevating grace, empathy, forgiveness, and compassion—practical. Like many of you, Jenny and I give financially to our church because a portion of each dollar supports a few local non-profits fighting injustices (homelessness, health care, human trafficking, broken homes, refugees, abortion, local and world hunger). Like some of you who volunteer your time, I volunteer my time as a football and wrestling coach to help boys become young men by building their character.
I invite you to pray this prayer with me:
Heavenly Father, may our lives resemble Jesus’ life. May we live each day in Your strength. May we do something when we see something. May we elevate grace, empathy, forgiveness, and compassion to those around us. May we honor You with our thoughts, mouth, and actions. Until Jesus comes back, fortify our faith. In Jesus’ Name and Power, Amen