There is much confusion and chaos in our country right now. A long-awaited change hovers on the horizon, but at its heel comes a sense of unrest and uncertainty. The church is at a crossroads, and how we respond to the current cultural climate of our nation will change us either for better or for worse.
The last two weeks I have been watching, praying, listening, lamenting, repenting, seeking, digging, asking, and researching.
Here are some preliminary conclusions:
1. The history and roots of racism in this country are long and deep. For too long injustice has sunk its venomous teeth into our hearts and seeped out into our systems, churches, schools, neighborhoods, government, and processes. This must end, and the church must wake up to the reality of the role it has played in permeating injustice and inequality. We grieve at the oppression and injustice people have experienced, and as followers of Jesus, we should be on the front lines of restoration. There is legitimate pain, and our response should be righteous anger and radical reform.
2. In light of the injustices we have recently witnessed, we have been asked to close our mouths and open our eyes and ears. I think this is both wise and pertinent. Lament, repentance, and reform are necessary. Education, awakening, and transformation are happening. There are many voices we should have listened to long ago. We are hearing them now. We are awakening to prejudices we weren’t aware of, and we are listening to the voices of those who have experienced things we will never understand.
But as Christians, we are called to weigh everything we see and hear against scripture.
The word of God alone is the authority on justice. The word of God alone is the light to our path. The word of God is not only relevant to every situation that arises, it is the only solution to every situation that arises. I believe that there is a political agenda that is exploiting the legitimate suffering and injustice the black community has endured, and as God’s people, we must move forward with great discernment and wisdom. There is evil afoot, and as usual, it is not always obvious. The enemy is crafty, and he is able to dress up lies in such a way that they are hard to distinguish from the truth. Deceit is running rampant, and I am watching fellow Christians run to the world rather than to Christ for the answers to the problems we are facing. Suddenly, politicians, celebrities, and activists are setting the standard for truth, and many people are running blindly into the darkness. I implore you to research the organizations you are promoting. Find out the doctrine that drives the authors, influencers, and celebrities whose resources you are sharing. I encourage you to research the black lives matter organization, specifically their guiding principles, as well as their ties to communism and Fidel Castro. Christian leaders are encouraging their flock to not point out flaws in this movement because it will take away from the opportunity to love our hurting neighbors. We can mourn with those who mourn. We must fight for the liberation of the oppressed.
But if we as Christians blindly follow a movement where oppression masquerades as compassion, then we will not only end up somewhere we didn’t expect, but we will end up somewhere we will regret.
3. There is an assault on the Gospel of Jesus Christ right now. It is both an external and internal assault. Not only are we being told that the Gospel is irrelevant for our current situation, we are being told it is inappropriate. Many Christian leaders are preaching that now is not the time for the Gospel, rather now is the time for social justice and racial reconciliation. Let me remind us of something of utmost importance. Social justice is a result of the Gospel. It is not the Gospel. And the reconciliation that we long to see is only found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Should the church have a mission of social justice?
Should followers of Jesus be working towards equality and justice for people of all races, ethnicities, and social standing?
We should be leading the charge.
But it should be the Gospel that drives us, guides us, and reminds us — not any political agenda, trend activism, or the constantly changing moral standard of the world. If our solutions to the needs of our nation mimic that of the culture around us, then the gospel we profess is not as powerful as we thought.
While we should work to create laws that ensure justice and equality for all people, no law will deal with the evil found in the human heart. Only the blood of Jesus can do that, and if we don’t believe the Gospel applies to the evil of racism, inequality, and injustice, then we should question what “gospel” we actually believe.
It is the Gospel that has the power to transform lives. It is the Gospel that has the power to set people free. It is the Gospel that can make sinners holy, bring the death to life, and tear down centuries-thick walls of hatred and injustice.
Maybe the reason why the secular world is leading the charge for racial reconciliation isn’t because the church has been too focused on the Gospel. Maybe it’s because the church hasn’t been focused on the Gospel at all.
We’ve been focused on adding numbers and filling seats. We’ve been focused on building buildings and building platforms. We’ve been focused on being culturally relevant and unoffensive. We've built kingdoms, and we've built palaces. We’ve been busy looking just like the world rather than surrendering our lives to the One True King and joining His mission to radically transform this world.
We cannot focus too much on the Gospel.
Because only the true, redeeming, life-transforming, sin-slaying, death-defeating, culture-shifting GOSPEL of JESUS CHRIST has the power to transform this broken, hurting, lost world and bring the reconciliation we long to see.
It starts with us. But it certainly won’t end with us. Once we understand the power of the Gospel, where we surrender all of ourselves, and in exchange, receive all of HIMSELF, we will rise up in the power of the Holy Spirit and join God in His mission to “bring all things to Himself” (Colossians 1:20).
Here is my takeaway. Read your Bible. Then read it again. Then read it again until you know what it says. Weigh everything you see and hear against it. Be transformed by it. The apostles preached the Gospel. Guess what followed? Transformed people and transformed communities. They sold their possessions, gave to the poor, tore down racial and class barriers, and boldly shared the Gospel with their neighbors. Their families looked different, their priorities looked different, and their lives looked different. In turn, their world started to look different.
Can I say it again? Read your Bible. Read your Bible instead of the latest celebrity’s advice. Promote the Gospel with as much enthusiasm as you promote your favorite influencer on social media. Pray as much as you scroll. Read your Bible again. Then read it again.
Gone are the days of being spoon fed by our pastors and teachers. Gone are the days where we can sit comfortably in our church pews and wonder if the Bible actually applies to our lives. Gone are the days where we can profess God with our mouths but live far from him in our hearts.
There is coming a day when holding true to the word of God will not be popular. It will not be the norm. In fact, we will be ridiculed and persecuted for it, even by those who profess to walk with God. We must wake up. Not only to injustice, but also to the truth. Our deepest problem is sin. And our only answer is Jesus.
Where do we go from here? We should educate ourselves on racism, of course. Listen to the stories of people who have experienced racial injustice. Ask God to reveal prejudice and racism in our hearts. But we must not allow the world to determine the way forward. There is absolute truth, and it is found in the inspired, infallible, unwavering, inerrant, applicable, life-altering, heart-transforming, Gospel-breathing word of God.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: The old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-20a)
Looking for resources that you can support or donate to that are Christ-centered and driven by the gospel?
Look up your local Crisis Pregnancy Center
Since 1973, 19 million black babies have been killed through abortion. A study by Protecting Black Lives, in 2012, found that 79 percent of Planned Parenthood’s surgical abortion facilities are located within walking distance of minority communities. https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2020/02/25/abortion-the-overlooked-tragedy-for-black-americans/
International Justice Mission
Every day, countless people are trafficked into slavery, as slave owners make a profit off their vulnerability. International Justice Mission is a global organization with a solution to end it.
Help Victims of Sex Trafficking
Research local Christian rescue organizations for victims of sex-trafficking where you live. They are always needing donations, and there are many different ways to volunteer.
Nalwoodi Denzhone Community
In the heart of the Eastern Arizona food desert lies San Carlos, home for the San Carlos Apache people. There, on an 80 acre former tree farm, Nalwoodi Denzhone Community (NDC) seeks to reawaken strength and beauty in at-risk, Apache youth and restore the harmony (Shil Gozhoo) that comes from Apaches being reconnected to their Creator, their land, and their natural heritage.
Prison Fellowship® is the nation's largest nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, and a leading advocate for justice reform. We seek to share the real, living hope of the Gospel with people who long for its power to make them new. Real restoration begins by addressing the cycle of crime on all fronts, in prison and out, and engaging in a cycle of renewal.