A Christian Response to Racial Injustice

This country is going through particularly rough times. People are talking about injustice, looking for justice. We all seem to hold different views of justice, some don't appear so just.

While people formulate their opinions, God far from silent on the issue of justice. Jesus' life exemplifies justice.

As Christians, we want to follow our Lord and to be godly difference makers in an injustice world. In coming weeks we'll dig into God's Word and seek a truly biblical, Gospel-informed, Christ-honoring view of justice.

Today we start with a Christian response to racial justice.

After Ahmoud Arberry was killed jogging. Breonna Taylor was shot dead in bed. George Floyd was killed by a bad cop. People are rightly saying, "Enough is enough."

I haven't spoken to one person who doesn't condemn each of these killings. Some who've never protested before have peacefully protested in recent weeks.

There are other injustices, and one could make the case that other injustices also matter, they do.

Yet in His sovereignty, God has allowed this problem to grip this nation's attention so rather than pivot away from this, let's bring Christ into it.

Matthew 5:43 You have heard that it was said, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy." 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

This isn't always associated with justice, but it is. God's justice is linked to love. Justice doesn't only bless the beloved and mistreat those who don't love back. Justice is demonstrated in gifts of food and rain to good and evil.

Furthermore, in verses 46-47, Jesus says, justice doesn't just love those who look like us, believe like us, or think like us. Love and justice go far beyond,

Matthew 5:46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

Jesus blows up the world's ideals about justice. May He entirely shape ours.

I want to state two public stances for our church:

First, Grace United stands against racism and against racial injustice.

For we believe God is loving and just, and He stands against all injustices.

Deuteronomy 32:4 The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.

2 Chronicles 19:7 … be very careful what you do, for the LORD our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality…

While public opinion shifts over the decades on so many moral issues, ours are rooted in God's unchanging and eternal truth.

We stand against racism and racial injustice because God created mankind in His image. Our Lord sets great and equal dignity, worth, and significance on every person regardless of skin color.

God doesn't distinguish between skin colors. We are body and spirit, bearers of God's image, made for God's glory, equal in stature.

But society discards God, and people lose track of our true worth; we make meaningless distinctions to boost our ego and keep control.

Not only are we equally valuable and signficant over every other animal and physical being, ee are also equally separated from God on account of our shared sin. So, Paul asked the self-righteous Jews who saw themselves above the Greeks, a classic prejudice on both sides,

Romans 3:9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks [or Blacks & Whites?] are all under sin.

Where is there room for distinctions, prejudice, superiority? We're equally image bearers. We're all equally sinful. We are also qually in need of God's grace.

And praise our Lord Jesus Christ who came into the world in human skin—whatever color—and gave His life for all of our lives—whatever color—and Jesus Christ makes His very righteousness, that which makes all men just, available through faith in Jesus to ALL who believe. No distinctions…

Romans 3:22… the righteousness of God [is available] through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

Whoever trusts Jesus is "justified" as a gift. Justified is a justice word—whoever believes in Jesus is justified or "made right with God," never needing to justify anything about himself or herself again; granted equal honor and privilege and equal status.

Galatians 3:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female ; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

We are equally sons of God through faith in Jesus. Believers in Jesus equally wear His righteousness. His clothes, His skin so to say in baptism. And this new identity and worth and privilege overshadows every other privilege or handicap that a person may have. We are all one in Christ, black or white, in Christ one has no more value than the other. And we believe this!

Not to belabor this point, yet we further affirm Jesus' vision of the future which includes a people that Jesus, through His death, purchased for God with His own blood—a people reserved for God from every skin color, every language, every people group and ethnicity. (Revelation 5:9)

So, Grace United stands against racism and racial injustice.

Second, Grace United affirms that Black lives matter.

Whether you're liberal or conservative, please don't read any political agenda into this. It's not there. We say this in the same spirit as the book of James. In the first chapter, James wrote,

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

James told this church that lost touch with mercy, "Widows lives matter! Orphan lives matter!"

These believers could have argued, "All lives matter!" which is absolutely true, but it would have missed the point and the pain, which the widows and orphans felt.

By the way they were treated in society and in the church, they believed their lives really didn't matter. "Does anybody even care how many of us have died?! We don't seem to matter to anyone."

This broke God's heart.

So our Lord told the church that widow's and orphan's lives matter, and the church needed to change. Aid them. Love them. Do justice.

God is sovereign over today's events, and He seems to be allowing us to see the pain that too many African American men and women feel. Church, things need to change.

As I watch and listen to what's going on, I'm hearing that as they see another Black man killed by the police, and things don't change, some are asking, "Does anyone care? Who even cares how many of us die? It doesn't seem that our lives even matter. Not to the police. Not to the country as a whole."

And that is heartbreaking. And not true.

So what is a Christian response, let's start with simply and compassionately listening.

James 1:19 Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to get angry; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

One could refuse to listen, and argue, "I don't think less about anyone. I'm nice. I try to be disarming." But this is just being defensive, like a husband arguing with his hurting wife, "I didn't do anything! How did I hurt you?!"

Or we can refuse to listen to the pain and state matter of factly that "all lives matter." And again, they do.

But it's like many African Americans are saying, "We hurt, do you care? We feel we don't matter! But our lives matter, right?" Then, if someone counters that all lives matter, it comes across like, "No, we don't care that you hurt."

And that's not our heart. Nor our Lord's.

What is a Christian response to racial injustice? How do we as followers of Jesus live and respond to the racism and racial prejudice of our day?

FIRST, open your ears, open your heart, and hear the hurt. listen to the cries of injustice. You don't have to fix it, but understand the pain.

SECOND, love your neighbor as yourself. Be respectful. Be disarming with your love. Does this person feel genuinely comfortable with me, respected, safe, unguarded? Remove all doubt to the quetion, "Does my life matter?"

Remove all doubt to the question, "Does my life matter?"

THIRD, in the name of Jesus, in the name of the God of justice, open your mouth, speak up, defend the rights of any person you see treated unjustly.

Proverbs 31:9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.

If it's a crime, or in the workplace, speak to authorities, not with threats yet with respect (Romans 13).

If a friend or coworker shares a racist joke, let them know, "Dude, that's not cool, I don't want to hear that."

But don't hate! Don't label. Don't go all "cancel culture" on them. Follow Christ, not the world. With all gentleness (2 Timothy 2:25), speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

FOURTH, families, share God's perspective on racial injustice, together. Parents, talk and show your children the value of love and respect, of humility, mercy, and service. Older children, adult children, share your heart with your parents. Talk with humility and understanding, communicate God's heart. Love one another.

FIFTH, Christians, love one another. Don't fall into Satan's trap of hate and division by demonizing another Christian if one doesn't seem in quite the same place as you on this. This happens even among Christians, and it's easier to do this online more than anywhere else.

In Romans 12-16, which is an amazing passage applying love and justice to so many issues, the apostle Paul asks these Christians who'd judged other Christians for their unenlightened views,

Romans 14:10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

Then he instructs those who were perhaps more enlightened on the issue,

Romans 15:1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.

At Grace United, we know that sin is rooted in every person's heart.

Sin is not just an action that we easily control once we're enlightened. And even if we know the right thing to do, we don't always do it.

Praise God if you don't cause anyone any microaggressions, but have grace toward those who unintentionally do. Bear with others in love. Put on the humility of Christ. We don't point out people's sin until they change, nor does Christ call us to shame anyone into compliance.

Don't try to control them, insinuate their racists, condemn them even by publicly unfriendig them.

Rather, love them in relationship, and speak with them, and trust God to work in them, and in you. And really, honestly, celebrate any response of humility. Affirm any change of heart or belief. We actually do this before expecting immediate obedience or demanding anyone's behavioral change.

FINALLY, share the good news of Jesus Christ and eternal life through faith in Him.

This is what people need. Share the gospel. The gospel is the power of God to save whoever believes (Romans 1:17). Steer people's hope from protests and politicians to the God of justice and love.

Introduce others to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who will treat them justly and with incomparable grace. Invite them into a relationship with the God who loves them and gave His life for them.

Help them to find their worth and true identity in Christ by faith.

For in Jesus Christ, a man is not viewed according to the color of his skin nor even by the content of his character but according to the shed blood and righteousness of Christ. Fully loved and accepted; heirs of a future glory in a kingdom, and a nation where they'll know and feel they truly belong.