Whose Life Matters?
Today’s blog is a bit longer than usual, but please bear with me as the subject is so important…
Here’s the thing…I have been reluctant to say anything much about what has been happening in America because I am white, middle class, privately educated, and have two university degrees. I have never had to go without; I have never gone hungry; I have never been homeless; I have always been in either education or employment. The only time I have felt like I was a minority was when I was one of two men in a counselling class of 20 people. Making any kind of comment on the George Floyd situation could so easily come across as some kind of “Virtue Signalling” from my privileged background, but that is not my intention here. Yet something I read over the weekend really struck a chord with me – that saying nothing implicitly places you on the side of the perpetrators of whatever has been done. On top of that, as a Christian I am called to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with (my) God” (Micah 6v8), to ” speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. protect the rights of all who are helpless” (Proverbs 31v8) and, of course, to “love (my) neighbour as (my) self.” (Luke 10v27).
Some will say, and have said, that Christians should not get involved in political stuff, but the murder of George Floyd (was he named after the first President of the USA I wonder?) goes far beyond politics and raises issues of justice, mercy, compassion and the simple basic respect each human being should have for another. In Genesis 1 (v26-7) “God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image…so God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.”
George Floyd was just like you and me in that he was created in the image of God, and he bore the image of God in his personality and character. Yet because of an attitude that black people are created less in the image of God than white people, his life was taken in what appears to be the most casual, indifferent manner possible. The picture of the police officer kneeling on his neck is bad enough, but seeing one hand in his pocket speaks volumes about his total lack of consideration and respect of a fellow human being.
Yesterday we celebrated Pentecost, when the Spirit of God came on the disciples and enabled them to share the Good News of Jesus in the language of everyone who was in Jerusalem at the time – people from every part of the known world, with skin of every colour(Acts 2v5-11). Pentecost says that God is for everyone. No-one is left out of His love and His plan. There are no second class citizens in God’s Kingdom. He does not discriminate. In fact Galatians 3v28 tells us that “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
God looks beyond the skin colour to the heart.
How deeply do we look?
What happened to George Floyd was wrong. It was an act of callous evil. It was part of a system of what we would call “institutionalised racism” that is tacitly if not openly endorsed from the highest office in the land. As Christians we have to speak out against such evil and injustice. We have to cry to God for forgiveness for our own indifference. We have to be aware that this is not just an American problem, nor is it a secular one, and decide to take a stand against it wherever we find it in our own lives, churches, communities and society.
Jesus was once asked, “Who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10v29). His answer was, “basically any human being that you see in need and can help” – and He told a story that involved breaking down racist attitudes. By Jesus’ definition George Floyd was my neighbour. So are the many thousands like him who face racism and oppression daily around the world. And the way to address these things is not by smashing up shops and burning police cars and stations – it’s by setting an example of God’s love and heart for others, no matter what the colour of their skin, empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit, and by prayin g and lobbying and campaigning for justice so that everyone created in the image of God is treated with respect, love and compassion.
The truth is that every life matters. The truth is that at the moment people need to be reminded that black lives matter. May we who call ourselves followers of Jesus show that to be true.
Thanks for making it all the way through.
God bless, stay well