The Convictions of a Pastor Over Racism
I am utterly heartbroken over the murder of George Floyd. I cannot imagine what his family and friends must feel after seeing the video broadcasted day after day on our news outlets. I am also angry that this has happened again to another African American by a police officer. We have assured fellow Americans of color that we would get better at this, and we still have failed. They deserve better from us, and I for one want to strive for better.
I do want to say, I am grateful for the outpouring of the Law Enforcement community is decrying the tactics of Derek Chauvin. I have personal friends in Law enforcement that are mourning over what happened. They too are sickened. We have many wonderful police officers. I am grateful for them, and I don’t want to imagine what a world would be like without them.
But sadly, that is not how my African American friends feel right now. They don’t know who to trust. Almost all that I have spoken to would like to have confidence in their authorities, but right now there is a lack of trust. I am praying for that trust to be restored. And while there is pressure to just ‘re-act’, emotion alone will not solve anything. I wanted to take time to think before I said anything publicly as to my own feelings and how I want to move forward.
I have to confess, I have not done enough on my part to help with change. Yes, I have preached against racism and worked in communities to build goodwill. But I have been naïve by thinking there is nothing more that I can do by believing that ‘the powers that be’ are surely making a difference. I have been trusting and conceding that they would and yet, it still keeps occurring. This is what the African American community has been trying to do and inform us for years … and yet the abuses continue. Now, I am convicted I should do more by helping those in authority do a better job.
First, I need to pray more for the law enforcement community. I have three deputies that I pray for regularly right now, but I need to up that number and pray for them as a body of people to act in wisdom as they serve our community. I need to pray for the relationships between law enforcement and their liaisons within our individual communities. I need to pray that they will listen well to one another and do everything I can to help facilitate those conversations. (I am currently working on a few ideas now).
Second, I need to listen to my brothers and sisters of color much more than I have. Again, my ‘tone-deafness’ has been to assume that some elected official is doing their job and is solving the problem. I no longer need to make any assumptions but to listen in humility.
Third, I need regularly to engage my local leaders to see what is being done to create awareness for our officers and deputies and make sure they have the resources to act when they see abuse within their respective departments. I need to make sure they have the training and the help to de-escalate a confrontation. This will hopefully create accountability and keep the problem on the forefront.
Fourth, I need to call out racism when I become aware of it. This needs to happen more than just between law enforcement. Racism is a sin and like other sin it is systemic in all areas of life. This is not just a cop issue. It is one for all of us.
Fifth, if I desire real change then I must address the hearts of the individuals involved. You cannot legislate equality. You can try to make the rules equal for all, but if someone is determined to be a racist, they will be (just as someone is determined to be a thief when there are laws against robbery). If I want to make change, I have to engage the racists with the gospel as much as I try to engage people of color with my love. I must seek to change their hearts and break the cycle of racism. The gospel is what will bring triumph and break the bonds of sin. As Christians, our identities are in Christ, not in our distinctions. We should appreciate and cherish the beautiful and variant intricacies that God has created in all his children, but we should be united as one under the banner of Jesus.
Perhaps, you think I am over the top, or not doing enough. I welcome your suggestions. But since, I have failed to be involved, I am compelled that this is the best place to start.