A Letter On Racism, Riots, & The Bible
Dear church family,
Like you, I have been deeply grieved by the events of the past week. We have seen great evils explode onto the national consciousness. While our country has been clawing our way back from the coronavirus shutdowns, we’ve now been thrown into chaos. Events that seemed far away just a few days ago have suddenly landed in our back yard with protests in our own communities.
In the cacophony of cultural voices, we must resolve to care more about what God thinks than any other. He created this universe. He gave us his law. He gets the final say about how we should act and live in his world. Therefore, Scripture, as God’s holy, inspired word (2 Tim. 3:16), must be the primary guide for providing God’s answers in our troubled world.
Therefore, as I process the turmoil surrounding us, I’m drawn to three Scriptural responses.
The Bible calls us to weep with those who weep (Rom. 12:15) and there are many people grieving right now. We want to come alongside them in their hurt. In addition, we grieve for the sin we see all around us. Lawlessness abounds as people ignore God’s law.
Our hearts rightly grieve the death of George Floyd. His murder is grievous because Mr. Floyd was a man made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26–27). God takes the murder of one human by another human very seriously (Gen. 9:5–6, Ex. 20:13), and so should we. In the eyes of God, the killing of George Floyd was wrong and evil. Therefore, we grieve it and denounce it as wicked.
We grieve any and all forms of racism, subtle or blatant. The Bible gives no place for what we call racism because every person is made in the image of God and therefore has inherent dignity and value. There are not multiple races of people, but only one race—the human race, who are all descended from Adam (Acts 17:26). Because we share a common ancestry, no ethnic group can claim superiority over another. All are equal in God’s eyes and should be in ours as well.
To treat people with disdain or hate because of outward appearances is an affront to the Creator of those differences. God shows no partiality (Romans 2:11) and for us to do so is to sin against him (James 2:9).
In light of the evils perpetrated, many are calling for justice. And rightly so. God desires justice among his people (Micah 6:8). Justice is defined by the character of God. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne” (Ps. 89:14).
Unfortunately, it is easy for those with power and authority to take advantage of those who have none. The Bible repeatedly calls for leaders to execute justice for the poor and the oppressed. As believers, we want to see God’s law upheld and all people to receive equal treatment under the law. Therefore, we grieve the abuse of power exhibited by those who had sworn to protect the public.
On top of this, there are those who have taken advantage of the situation to commit more evil. We grieve the violence and anarchy being exhibited in cities across the country. While everyone has the right to protest, there is no reason for vandalism, theft, and murder. This is adding injustice to injustice. The destruction and burning of community businesses is wicked and serves no just purpose. To steal or to harm others’ property is expressly forbidden by the Lord (Ex. 20:15), as is repaying evil for evil—“Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom. 12:17–19).
We grieve the danger, threats, and attacks first responders experience as they seek to protect our cities and neighborhoods. They receive the brunt of people’s anger and hostility simply because it’s their duty to be there and serve.
In all of this, we grieve because of sin. Ever since sin entered the world in Genesis 3, mankind has been perpetrating great wrongs against one another (i.e. Cain killing Abel in Genesis 4). We hate, murder, and oppress because we are sinners.
Sin has manifested itself in every society down through human history. Our country is no different. The United States has a sad history of the oppression, mistreatment, and hatred of other humans. We grieve this lamentable history.
But we cannot let our grief lead us to despair, and therefore we must pray.
We pray because only God is a sovereign Savior. Government is not our savior. The strength of the mob is not our savior. Only God can help us, so we cry out to him, and he loves to hear our prayers (Ps. 65:2).
We pray for the Floyd family as they grieve the loss of George, their beloved family member.
We pray that justice will be served to the police officers involved in George Floyd’s death.
We pray for all corruption that exists in the criminal justice systems across the country to be exposed and rooted out.
We pray for those who have been and are mistreated by ungodly authorities.
We pray for law, order, and peace to be restored to the streets of our cities.
We pray for police officers and other first responders, that they would be safe from harm; that they would respond wisely in each situation, and that they would have compassion for their fellow man.
We pray justice will be served for those who are rioting, destroying property, and looting.
We pray for all those who are hurting right now that they would be comforted in their grief.
We pray especially that the people of the United States would repent of their sins and turn to Jesus as their only hope. He is their only hope of reconciliation with God and each other. Only Jesus removes the just wrath of a holy God reserved for each person. Only Jesus removes the hostility from our hearts so that we can love one another.
Without Jesus and without repentance, there is no hope of peace in our country. We must pray God humbles our nation, and that our nation confesses its sin, and turns to Jesus.
Most of all, we pray God’s magnificent, holy name is glorified above all. We want him to be honored, feared, and worshiped by all people made in his image.
One day, Jesus will return and set up his kingdom on this earth. In that day, there will be true justice and true harmony among all humanity. Until his kingdom is established, peace and reconciliation is manifested in the church (Ephesians 2:11–22).
The church is to be a beautiful expression of God’s ideal for humanity. We are a mix of different ethnicities and those differences capture the diversity God created in this world. Through the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are able to stand unified together. The diversity stays, but the division goes away.
But as we talked about on Sunday, we must seek to preserve our unity together. We have all been forgiven of our sins. The ground is level before the cross. We must love one another. We must listen to each other and learn from one another. Our platform for doing this is our unity in Christ.
Church, these are sad and troubling times. I pray we can love our neighbors as ourselves, engage in honest dialogue with the people around us, seek to understand those who are different from us, and share the gospel unashamedly.
This is a time to dialogue with other brothers and sisters in the church as we process these events together. If you have any further questions, the elders are here for you, so please reach out to us.
May God grant mercy,
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June 3, 2020A Letter On Racism, Riots, & The Bible