If there ever has been a time to ask, “What would Jesus do?” … this is that time.
“How would Jesus treat someone whose skin was a different color?”
“How would Jesus respond to an innocent man’s death?”
“What wisdom would Jesus give to confused and anxious politicians?”
“How would Jesus handle the media who often offers opinion and emotion rather than truthful facts?”
“What would Jesus offer to a world in social isolation and in deep division?”
“What would Jesus do?”
It may be the most important question of our time.
There is great pain at the reality of what we see happening currently in America but there is a greater, more searing pain at the birthplace of these actions.
Let me just begin with a humble disclaimer …
I know that I will not say everything correctly or use the appropriate terms when I address this issue … but I want you to know my heart.
I want to feel the pain of my black brothers and sisters.
I want to know what George Floyd’s mother feels … and what Ahmaud Arbery’s mother feels. I want to cry with them … dry their tears … take them a meal … and just sit in quiet pain with both of those dear, dear mothers.
I want to extend compassion and understanding to them … I also want to give them the fire of my heart.
Compassion is an interesting word, is it not?
It literally means “with passion” … or “passion that comes along beside of”.
My definition of the word “compassion” is … the fire of my heart.
I want the passion of my heart to identify with the single black mom in South Carolina as she sends her 17-year-old son to a predominantly white school.
I want the passion of my heart to feel what the young black man feels who is turned down for job after job … promotion after promotion.
I want the passion of my heart to feel what it is like to sit in the back of the bus … to be escorted to the balcony of the church … and to know that my children are not safe on the city streets.
Will I ever really be able to understand?
Probably not … but I can still grieve with them, fight for them and pray with them.
I am troubled … I am sobered … and I am finally moved to speak up.
I’d like to encourage you to join me as I strive to build a bridge toward those who have felt disenfranchised, been taken advantage of and marginalized through all of American history.
It might be easier to build this bridge than you have imagined … will you join me?
First of all – check in.
Check in with your black friends, neighbors, co-workers, former classmates and family members.
Let them know that you honor them as human beings and that you support them as friends. Don’t make the conversation about you and your feelings but listen to their pain.
The second thing you and I both need to do is that we need to learn … we desperately need to educate ourselves.
I need to learn more about racism and oppression in America.
I am currently reading “Native Son” by Richard Wright that a young, black woman recently recommended to me.
I also have “Makes Me Wanna Holler” by Nathan McCall and “Once Upon A Time When We Were Colored” by Clifton Taulbert on my reading list.
I hope that these books make me uncomfortable. I hope that they make me weep and that they stir compassion in me. I hope that these books trouble me deeply.
I pray that the fire of my heart is lit as I read these books.
The third thing that we need to do is to take personal responsibility for teaching the next generation how to love completely … how to celebrate friendship … and how to bestow kindness.
It is imperative that we teach our children and our grandchildren to live with compassion and with kindness. This is part of the bridge building that will have long-range benefits and will leave a legacy that trumps prejudice.
Talk to your children about what it means to be kind to someone who looks differently than you do.
Remind them often that we don’t bully anyone … anytime … any place … anywhere! And not only that – we stick up for those who are bullied. We stand beside them in friendship.
Read biographies to your children of black men and women who accomplished great things at their moment in history. Make these biographies required summer reading.
George Washington Carver
Mary McLeod Bethune
Benjamin O. Davis Sr.
Dr. Charles Drew
W. E. B. Du Bois
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Booker T. Washington
Watch movies with your children and then have family discussions about how the movie made them feel. Movies that are appropriate and meaningful for most ages are:
Remember the Titans
Movies that are appropriate for teen-agers and older are:
The Color Purple
And finally, as believers in Christ, we need to pray and to ask ourselves the inevitable question, “What would Jesus do?”
The truth is this … it is not just buildings that are burning but it is hearts that are burning.
Hearts are burning with anger … with hatred … with fear … with retribution.
Hearts have been set ablaze with the dry kindling of thousands of instances of racism and injustice that have happened throughout history.
“And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves and they rested on each one of them.” – Acts 2:3
We need to pray that the fire of the Holy Spirit … the fire of Pentecost … would be greater within us than are the fires that are burning in America.
When the disciples lived during the days of the early church, they were known as the men who “turned the world upside down.” – (Acts 17:6)
Wouldn’t that be a powerful identification for us as the disciples of Christ at this moment in history?!
Would you love to be part of the generation who turned the world of racism … of prejudice … and of anger upside down!
My heart is on fire with passion and with the power of the Holy Spirit. I will lean into that fire and allow it to burn away the dross, the prejudice and the lack of care that has been allowed to remain in my heart.
I will allow the fire to give me the power that the disciples had at their moment in history.
The fire of the Holy Spirit will change the world … will make a difference … and will make us more holy.
The fire of the Holy Spirit will makes us more like Jesus … so that we would truly know what He would do.
Thanks for listening to my heart this week. As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me. And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!