> “i don’t want to cause division/dissension”
> “i just trust that God will take care of it, so i don't think i need to do anything”
> “we must listen to governing authorities and have respect for them, even if we don’t agree”
> “we’re IN the world, not OF the world”
> “God’s timing is perfect and we can’t control when oppression is going to end, it’s timeline is bigger than ourselves”
> and i could go on....
but all in all, these phrases move toward the same thing: justification.
justification to be apathetic—to not say anything and turn a blind eye to suffering, remaining stagnant in our unwillingness to be uncomfortable.
i wanted to talk about a scripture early on in the bible—one of the first mentions of injustice.
this is the story of an older brother who was entitled to recieving the most love from his Father + the mere existence of his younger brother seemed to take away from his own desired experience.
this older brother gathered a sacrifice to give to his Father (God), which was ultimately disfavored in comparison to his younger brother’s first fruits.
the older brother grew angry at this and killed his younger brother.
> was this a moment of pure rage?
> was this a premeditated effort in response to the threat of Abel (the younger brothers’) success?
we don’t really know...but we do know that his actions (and subsequent non-action of working through his own hatred and assumed privilege) turned ugly in a moment of fear.
> so how does God respond?
God SEES this-
“Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’
He said, ‘ I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?’
And the LORD said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground” // genesis 4:9-10
here’s what we learn from God’s response--
we are responsible for what happens to our brothers and sisters.
we (the ones who subsequently benefit from others’ oppression) are responsible for what happens in response to systemic racism and anti-blackness (in this case).
i think white Americans struggle with this question-- am i my brother’s keeper? am i responsible for what happens? even if my thoughts/actions are unseen, or unnoticed? how do they make a difference?
we can so easily shift blame towards others who are overtly racist, bigoted and —particularity in the case of Ahmaud Arbery— anti-black.
but here’s the thing—no single drop of rain thinks it’s responsible for a flood.
our silence and unwillingness to get involved (which—by the way—if we have the choice to get involved or not while maintaining our own safety) IS privilege + forfeits our innocence.
it is with every drop of unchecked bias, racist joke, profiled thought, and anti-black (or anti-asian, anti-latinx, etc) sentiment that these things happen in our society---and consequently, seeps into our churches.
the question thus arises-- can we really be blameless AND silent? + if not, how can we take responsibility?
have we ignored having hard conversations? have we kept our privileged friends and family accountable? have we been empathetic and quick to listen to the experiences of minoritized individuals? have we educated ourselves of the true history this country has endured?
we must think:
> how can we protect each other?
> how can i show the same concern God does when acts of hatred happen?
because God deeply CARES and when we stay silent, he has to hear the voice of bloodshed and his heart is broken.
“speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” // proverbs 31:8-9
// isaiah 61
// psalm 9: 7-9
// zechariah 7:9-10
// ezekiel 33:6
1 thes. 2:8
because we love you so much, we are delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well