Stop, Look, Listen
By: Christy Lee-Yim
When the world is hurting and parts of our country are literally on fire, it can be tempting to hide away and retreat from the chaos to protect our own livelihoods or simply “wait” until everything passes over. But as Christians, we are called to more. We are called to enter the pain of the hurting around us to show them the redeeming light of Jesus. Remember that Jesus entered into our world, took on flesh, and gave his life for us. This is what it means to follow our master: take up the cross and follow Him.
How can we do this in a way that honors God and is wise during a global pandemic, especially when many of our congregants are of a vulnerable population? Here are some suggestions that can help us live out the gospel during this time:
Understand God’s heart for the hurting and vulnerable. In particular many books of the Old Testament speak volumes to the issue of oppression. The book of Exodus of course speaks into this, but also the prophets and minor prophets when the Israelites were in exile as well. Some books include: the book of Habakkuk, Jeremiah, Amos, Jonah, Micah, and more.
Listen to the voices of the hurting: Before you dismiss the voices of the oppressed as you hear about violence during protests, please try to understand why these protests are happening in the first place. Learning about the issue does not mean that we condone the violence and looting. Here are a helpful list of books in navigating what it means to come alongside our black and brown brothers in America (these are just a few to start):
Stamped from the Beginning, by Ibram Kendi
How to be an Antiracist, by Ibram Kendi
Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Blindspot, by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald
The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
The Tears We Cannot Stop, by Michael Eric Dyson
Talk to people about this: Whether it is to process some of the things you’re wrestling with, ask questions, raise awareness of these issues or simply pray with believers, be in community with the people around you. There are people within the church (and beyond) who care about these issues too! When two or more are gathered (even with social distancing) in Jesus’ name, He is there with us. Hold fast to Jesus and to one another.
Pray specifically: Do not gloss over the issue of systemic injustice by simply asking God to “be with the people”. It’s not that God doesn’t know that thought: it’s that we are training and tuning our own hearts about who and what we are praying for. When we pray specifically, we are not only asking God to hear us, but also we are asking God to give us his heart for these issues as well. Here is a starting point of what you can pray for:
Confess and repent: How have you viewed black and brown people in this country in your heart? How have you been complicit in the oppression of the marginalized in society?Before we talk about systemic and structural changes in the world, it needs to begin in our hearts. Lord, how have we been a part of the problem as well? Search us, Holy Spirit!
Intercede for systemic changes that would help the black and brown community to thrive: This issue is not just about one man who was killed. It is about the systemic injustices that disfavor black and brown individuals in this country. This imbalance of power, wealth, and agency is everywhere in our society: in the workforce, government representation, education, and even in our churches across America. Ask God to bring changes to these institutions to be equitable to marginalized populations.
Healing: Pray for the families who have lost loved ones. Pray for the division in our country. But more specifically, ask God how you and CPC can be a part of the healing working God is doing in our city. This is no longer just a Minneapolis issue: we are a part of this as well. How is God calling us to bring shalom to our city?
Love Your Neighbor: This is harder to do in an age of a global pandemic. But a way that we can support our black and brown brothers and sisters during this time (aside from praying and educating ourselves) is to put our money where our mouth is. Research some organizations who are doing restorative, equitable work for marginalized groups. Learn about them and support them financially. Another suggestion would be to come alongside black and brown brothers and sisters in your life and show them support and solidarity during this time (but do not ask them to explain the issues to you before you do the work yourselves by learning and listening. It is our responsibility to do the work first before putting the responsibility on them.)
Church, now is not the time to feel hopeless. We have Jesus who is sitting at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, interceding on our behalf. The church must be a source of healing and shalom for the world. Rise up!