I had another column written, but then ….
Let’s begin by saying what must be said. White supremacy is wrong. White supremacy has no place in this country. White supremacy has no place in the church. And if one cannot openly condemn white supremacy, they have no place saying that they follow Jesus.
I am shocked and appalled that I have to write those words in 2020.
I find myself taken back to the prophet Micah. He asks a question that continues to obsess churches and nations: “Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil?” (Micah 6:7) We equate greatness with wealth. We equate blessing with success. We equate strength with power.
But Micah makes clear that wealth and success and power is not the way of faithfulness: “He has told you … what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
In light of this election – in light of the supposed “debate” – consider these words prayerfully and carefully. Where was the justice this past week? Where was the kindness? Where was the humility?
“To do justice” – we are called to work for justice in our communities, our country, and our world. God calls for justice for all people, whom Jesus defines as the least of these, whom we feed, welcome, clothe, and visit (Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus defined his own mission as “to bring good news to the poor … to proclaim release to the captives … to let the oppressed go free.” (Luke 4:18) As we consider our vote, justice must be central. Let me offer two specific considerations.
First, to do justice means Black lives matter. It is absolutely false to say that “Black lives matter” somehow means that all lives do not matter. Black lives matter precisely because all lives matter. Black lives matter because our country has not valued black lives. We moved from slavery to Jim Crow to segregation and redlining to a continued white supremacy. The blood of Black brothers and sisters — from unnamed lynching victims to Emmitt Till and Medgar Evers to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Trayvon Martin and Philando Castille and Sandra Bland (and …) – cries out for justice that Black lives matter. If we cannot simply condemn white supremacy without making a qualification (or worse, to send out a rallying cry to those groups we are called to condemn), then we have no business claiming we follow Jesus.
Second, to do justice means that the designation “pro-life” applies more broadly than the abortion debate. I find the abortion debate to be enormously complicated. I accept that we must care for the unborn, but my care is for those conditions that lead women to make such decisions and not to punishing them for making that choice. But it is inconsistent and wrong to say you are “pro-life” while not caring and fighting for the lives of those already born. You cannot be pro-life and accept children taken from their parents at the border and put in cages. You cannot be pro-life and accept discrimination against our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. You cannot be pro-life and accept capital punishment. You cannot be pro-life and not accept taking common sense measures for gun safety. You cannot be pro-life and not accept that Black lives matter. You cannot be pro-life and not accept the Me-Too movement.
Paul gives us some wonderful guidance: “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)
The chaos I witnessed on Tuesday night showed none of these things. But if the venom and poison I heard can lead us as a people of God to do justice and to love kindness, if that bitterness and wrangling can lead us as a people of God to speak truth to power, to build up and to give grace, then God will indeed be working in and through us to realize the Beloved Community.