Our family, including our grandchildren, have been discussing the events in Dallas and the videos of black men being killed by police. And now the heartbreak in Baton Rouge yesterday. Everyone has an opinion, because we all want a solution.
I hear white Christians blaming the problem on the immorality and breakdown of the family in urban America. And blacks see racial discrimination everywhere from the justice system to education. And there are elements of truth in both camps. Human nature is such that we tend to find evidence to support the views we already hold. And at no time was this form of confirmation bias more obvious than in the O.J. Simpson verdict.
But if I hear one more politician, or new commentator say, “It’s time we have a national conversation about gun violence and racial discrimination by police against black men,” I think I’ll scream! We’ve been having those conversations for years, and intensely ever since the Trayvon Martin incident in in 2013, spawning the Black Lives Matter, movement.
Please don’t misread me; I’m all for discussions and conversations, even at the national level to address these problems. But, we can learn from environmentalists who coined the phrase “Think globally, but act locally.”
So, what does “act locally” actually mean in this context? It means that although you and I alone can’t change national policy, we can and should be far more proactive with our own family and friends. So here are six ideas to get started; 1. People who claim to be Christians, must chose to act more like Jesus and less like blacks and whites. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 The gospel is neither black nor white. The “confirmation bias” for Christians must always come from scripture. But all too often Christians spend more time listening to secular news than reading scripture. That’s why I’m actually embarrassed sometimes when I hear Christians supporting ideas or political candidates whose ideas are completely antithetical to a biblical worldview. Does your favorite candidate act and sound like Jesus? Do your solutions sound like Jesus might have said them? If you call yourself a Christian, then any solution to a moral or a racial problem must pass the what would Jesus do, or say, test? Therefore Christians ought to be the thought leaders and advocates for kindness and civility. Jesus asks this haunting question in Luke 6:46. “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”
Are the teachings of Jesus the primary driver of your political, racial and moral worldviews?
2. Talk to the hot heads in your own family. Whether you are black or white, a police family, two parent family or even a fractured one, the chances are you have one or more “hot heads” in your family. These are family members who are more than just sad over this violence and racism, they’re mad!
Most of us know the difference between righteous indignation and just plain anger or racial hatred that could lead to violence. If you are a parent, to adult angry or racist children, it is your civic and biblical responsibility to speak to them about that sin.
Many family members of the people who commit violent acts, say they knew from personal conversations and from Facebook posts that a loved one was hateful. They just never thought it would go that far. Parents, even of police officers, step up to the plate and use your authority to speak truth into their lives and get them the help they need, spiritually, or psychologically to deal with their anger before your child is the next shooter, or is shot themselves.
3. Talk to your friends. Some of us have Christian friends who appeared to be more influenced by ultra-conservative talk show hosts than the Bible. Talk to them. Get them to understand that the eye-for-an-eye philosophy is one Jesus commands us to abandon. “Love your enemies” and “forgive those who persecute you,” are Jesus’ marching orders. They are not optional!
4. If you are involved in a protest, be the calming voice. If you ever have the opportunity to take part in a protest march, be the one to help calm down others who are getting out of control. You be the one to go up to a protestor with a brick or rock and ask them to put it down. If you see posts on social media by your friends, that are un-Christ like, call or meet with them. Christians do not have the right to separate Jesus from politics or policy.
5. Pray for personal wisdom. All of us have personal prejudices that subtly shape our thoughts and actions. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal yours to you. Confess them, repent of them and pray for godly wisdom to know how you should think or act in the future.
6. Sit down with someone of another race and listen. A decade ago, I called two black pastors and asked for their help. “Please help me understand your personal experience being black in America.” We’ve met dozens of times over the years and while I’m confident I still have some racism, those conversations have given me much greater empathy. Ask God for the name of a person for you to call. Then do it. You and the kingdom will be better for it.
How following Jesus works in real life.
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