What should a spiritual response be to the horrific racial nature of the deaths of George Floyd and Armaud Arbrey?
Envision Heaven: I believe that many Christians will be surprised when they get to heaven. Instead of the best version of their favorite homogenized church service that they were expecting they will see every race known to humanity, languages and dialects that are foreign to them, and cultural tendencies that doesn’t fit the narrative of a white-centric heaven. Maybe, we won’t see the need to categorize and label the way we do this side of heaven but I believe that our differences will still be apparent. If we can’t support, love, and worship with our Black brothers and sisters now then heaven is going to take some getting used to. I would like to be preparing myself for heaven now. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done…”
Examine Your Heart: I possess bias, even prejudice in my own heart. You do too. Have you dismissed some areas of your town or region because of the color that is represented in that community? Do you always seem to make a point to list race when you are telling a story, especially a negative one? Is there a tinge of fear when you encounter a group of people from a different race from your own? Do you assume certain people you talk to on the phone or encounter at a business lack intelligence or skill to provide you what you need?
Our hearts can be radically evil and ruined and that is often our default mode until it is transformed by Christ (which is a lifelong process). Before we dismiss racism and prejudice as an affliction that someone else has, we need to examine our own hearts to see the renovation that needs to go on there. Ask God to help you see his people in the way that he sees his people. Ask for humility to acknowledge where we may be complicit in the society and institutional racism that exists. As long as we think it is someone else’s hang up and not our own, we won’t be compelled to do anything different.
Lament and Grieve: Please realize that what happened to George Floyd and the aftermath of protests that erupted after his death is not the “News Media Crisis of the Week.” The same issues that the Black community is facing today they will be facing two months from now and next year when Social Media and the internet has moved on to a new crisis.
In order for us to avoid the crisis news cycle, we need to lament and grieve what has happened to George Floyd, Atatiana Jefferson, Sandra Bland, Armaud Arbrery, and the list goes on and on. Their senseless deaths at the hands of prejudice and racially motivated violence is at the height of evil and tragedy and requires Christians to lament these lives that were lost and to cry out to God for justice and reconciliation for our country and our communities.
Blackout your social media feed if you feel led but don’t skip over the hard and unpleasant process of heartbreak and loss that triggers healing. I plan on reading and praying the Psalms of lament to help me embrace this tragedy with a deeper perspective.
Have Dinner: The amount of ministry performed by Jesus over meals is astounding. Dinners and food metaphors are some of Jesus’ favorite devices and teaching symbols. His miracles often centered around providing food and drink for people who needed it no matter their position in life, gender, or worthiness.
I have been struck recently by hearing about the Racial Reconciliation Dinners that have sprung up around the South. There is something so pure and basic, in the best sense of the word, about sitting across from someone that you wouldn’t normally socially interact with. Opinions, preferences, and barriers just fall away when you can look someone in the eye and have a conversation over a quality meal served with hospitality and love. Start your own reconciliation dinners.