In 2018 in Montgomery, Alabama, the “Lynching Museum” opened to the public. Formally called the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, it is dedicated to the memory of the 4,400+ black men and women who were lynched in the U.S. (https://museumandmemorial.eji.org/). (The photo above is from inside the Memorial, with 800 hanging columns, representing the counties of the U.S. where lynchings were held and the names of those murdered in that county. I hope to take our older grandchildren there someday, just as my wife and I plan to take them to the Holocaust Museum.
So they never forget.
In 1 Kings 3, God appears to Solomon in a dream and tells him he’ll give him whatever he wants. Solomon could have asked for wealth or honor. Instead he says, “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people, to distinguish between right and wrong.” 1 Kings 3:9
God is so impressed with Solomon’s request, he responds this way. “The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, ‘Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice,…..’” 1 Kings 3:10, 11 Four words stood out to me in my reading of that passage. “Discernment in administering justice.”
We’ve all watched the horrible video of George Floyd having the life slowly pressed out of him under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. Susan and I were sickened. That knee was simply one more lynching by a different method.
So, our older grandchildren gathered on the deck of our cottage on an evening a few weeks ago and they asked, “what can Christians do to stop this?” I gave them this quote from a black pastor, I heard on the radio;
“Justice is what love looks like in public.”
I went on to say that we are commanded to love everyone, but I cannot personally “love” every person on earth. I can only love the people I know or have met. But if and when, I work for justice in society it is a form of love that we can give or grant to everyone. It’s what love looks like in public.
So, how can individual Christians bring about a more justice society?
Pray for justice. But don’t just pray for justice in general, but search scripture for justice passages and stories of people being just, or even unjust and pass them on to your family and the people with whom you have influence. Send out the message, loud and clear, that Christians ought to work for a more just society, for everyone.
Plan justice conversations. In a few weeks, the memory of George Floyd will be behind us, but sadly, there will be another “George.” Begin planning now for that and what and how you will teach your children or grandchildren when it does. These are teachable moments. Be intentional about using these tragedies of injustice to build empathy in your family.
Vote for justice. By that I mean do not vote for any candidate, from the president down, who does not champion justice for the poor and powerless. Check their voting records. What have they done to promote peace and justice? Are they dividers or uniters? Have they worked to pass legislation to protect the least of these?
Do not condemn all police, or all demonstrators. There are amazing police men, the vast majority of whom, lay their lives on the line every day for us. And there are hot-heads and bigots who should never be in uniform. Likewise, there are peaceful demonstrators, who are rightly angry about injustice, and there are opportunists that are out only to destroy, or steal a free T.V. Teach your family to be discerning- to separate the “wheat from the chaff.”
God was proud of Solomon for choosing wisdom, so he gave him discernment in administering justice. Through the Holy Spirit, we too have that same discernment available to us. Some of my friends, even my Christian friends are sending me YouTubes and cartoons, that are anything but kind and just, and promote a response I cannot imagine Jesus ever making. Refuse to take any side, other than that of justice and peace. And plan on being unpopular. Look what they did to Jesus!
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
How following Jesus works in real life.
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