Responding To Crisis As A Christian
This week as I watched the news coming out of Kenosha, Wisconsin regarding the latest police shooting of a black man, I was filled with sadness, and my spirits sunk.
I also felt a sense of dread over the sorts of reactions I would begin to see from many of my white Christian friends and connections on social media. It didn't take long.
"There is more to this story than this video..." one white Christian friend wrote.
Another immediately began condemning the protests that occurred after the shooting. Still others posted their support of the police, while excoriating the reactions of the professional athletes who had spoken out about the shooting.
And then yesterday on my Facebook Live broadcast a young man who attended one of my former churches, began posting inflammatory comments in the comment feed, after I expressed my sorrow over the incident.
He made sure to point out the criminal record of the man who was shot.
I'm grieved over all of this. I'm grieved over the fact that these kinds of incidents continue happening. I'm grieved that my black siblings are reeling yet again--continuing to feel fear, anger, sorrow and that they still do not feel heard.
I'm also grieved that there continues to be violence and rage in the streets of many of our cities. I'm grieved that so many police officers who are trying to do what is right, are put in impossible situations because of these tragedies.
I'm grieved over the systemic injustice, racism, fear, dread and desperation that often drives all those involved in these shootings on a collision course that too often ends in death.
And I am grieved by the way that far too many white Christians publicly respond to these issues when they arise, and do so in ways that are often tone deaf and lacking grace.
I'm going to say this as simply as I can...
The right and proper Christian response to these issues is to acknowledge all of the brokenness in these moments... Because it's in those spaces where we find the broken, bleeding and crucified Christ.
To avoid that brokenness places us alongside the disciples of Jesus in the hours after his arrest when they ultimately fled from him, and then denied him.
When we acknowledge some of the pain of these moments, and deny the rest, we also deny the full expression of Christ crucified in all of it, and in so doing we deny our own true humanity. Madeline L'Engle once wrote:
As Christians we are meant to be not less human than other people but more human, just as Jesus of Nazareth was more human.
This means that Christians are called to a higher standard of solidarity with those who are suffering. We care called to stand in the midst of the brokenness and bear witness to it.
We are called to see the frail, shattered but precious humanity on display in these moments, and to offer ourselves if need be for its redemption and restoration. And we cannot be afraid to call out injustice as part of that redemption.
Bishop Desmond Tutu wrote this in his excellent book on forgiveness:
We are made to exist in a delicate network of interdependence. We are sisters and brothers, whether we like it or not. To treat anyone as if they were less than human, less than a brother or a sister, no matter what they have done, is to contravene the very laws of our humanity. And those who shred the web of interconnectedness cannot escape the consequences of their actions.
To my white Christian friends, I offer you both an admonition and some encouragement.
First, as followers of Christ we risk losing our way when we are unable or unwilling to see just how interconnected we all are, and how that calls us to the holy and important work of being peacemakers. We have to be better.
But here is the encouragement: This holy work not only must be done by you, it can be done by you. You have all of the power, the strength, and the courage you need.
You must not become "weary in doing good," as the Apostle Paul wrote. You can rise up, using his words, "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."