This Sunday, you’ll be gathering together again—some of us physically and many of us, virtually. You’ll be preparing your heart to hear a message and hoping after the week you’ve had that it will be timely. But as you sit in your pew (or on your couch), you may begin to see that the Pastor who’s been teaching a sermon series has not changed their message at all. You heard a few words about grief or unity during worship and that tickled your ears but didn’t reach your heart. Now the sustenance you’ve been craving from your Pastor seems to be lacking the main ingredients of timeliness, empathy, grace, etc. You’re devastated where you sit realizing that your Pastor couldn’t be bothered to scrap their prerecorded message to give their flock something more hearty. So you click out or walk out, or maybe you stay hoping that true fullness is coming…and at the end you leave still carrying that heavy laden burden.
If you find yourself in a service like the one described above, it’s time to find a new church. If your Pastor can allow the heaviness and trauma of this week to not even scratch the surface of their pre-scheduled series, they are not a Pastor in tune with the Spirit of God; they are a charismatic actor on a stage. If your worship leader couldn’t find 10-15 minutes to address the sorrow that many walked in or tuned in feeling and didn’t allow the Spirit to guide them in a direct prayer addressing their grief, they’re not a worship leader; they’re a noisy gong. If your fellow members didn’t stop you to ask how you’re doing, offer you words of encouragement, comment, text or call you this past weekend to share their words of empathy and solidarity, you don’t have community; you have a weekly gathering. If you’re being fed crumbs when the word of God says we cannot live by bread alone but by the Word of God, then you are being cheated out of the fullness of Christ in a building masquerading as His Body.
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.Isaiah 1:17
When will enough be enough? When will justice be served? When will Black and brown bodies “earn” their righteousness in the kingdom of God? When will we be worthy of being saved? defended? alive? When will the Church—the beacon of hope in a dark world—begin to shine it’s light on injustice?
It’s not enough to be murdered in the streets by those paid to protect us. It’s not enough to be left to die in hospitals by those paid to cure us. It’s not enough to be walking, jogging, driving, eating, etc. We always have to be so much more to be seen. To be heard. To be given the license to be alive. Why is this when the same Spirit that breathed life into you, Christian, breathed life into me? The same Spirit that called me, Christian, called you? The same Spirit that marked me worthy because He is worthy, Christian, marked you?
The problem is, you don’t see me or them or us as made in the image of God because you don’t see God for who He is. You see God for who you have created him to be in your hearts and the echo chambers that you call church. The God you serve and the one that called me are not the same.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.Proverbs 31:8-9
When you leave your church tomorrow, do not leave without asking questions. Address your Pastor in person, via email, or letter. Talk to people of color on staff, if there are any, and communicate your concerns. Write an open letter to your church naming the ways in which they can help facilitate an environment that is safe for people of color. If you find resistance, ask yourself how long you’re willing to stay to see change. If you understand that justice cannot wait, leave. Find a church that will embrace all of God’s image bearers and is not content with messages that allow racists to feel comfortable on Sunday Morning.
Although I left the physical gathering of the church a long time ago, I still have this little fire in me that won’t extinguish. I have not given up hope for what the Body of Christ has been called to because I know Jesus hasn’t forsaken it. I will not stop calling the Church to action until She is realized in the full glory of what She has been called to. So what are you and your churches going to do to help defend and uplift the oppressed?
Books, Podcasts, and Articles are listed here as resources as well as lessons on Anti-racism.
Understanding and Dismantling Racism: A Book List for White Readers
The Anti-Racist Reading List
A resource for teachers and parents to create lesson plans on anti-racism
How To Be Anti-Racist – Article
Talking About Race – Article
White Anti-Racism: Living the Legacy – Discussion
5 Ways to Show Up for Racial Justice Today – Article
Start in your own home and community. Talk to the people around you about how to be anti-racist and support the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) in your life. If there are none, start there. Remember: this is not about you. Listen. Learn. Surrender. Impact is greater than intention.
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.James 2:17