When you heard about the murder of George Floyd, how did you respond? Hurt? Numb? Shock? Indifference? Desensitized? Anger? Fear? Our world is boiling over with unimaginable hurt and anger right now. It has been that way far too long. How do we respond as believers? How do we become part of the solution to end the sin and atrocities of racism? How do we help those who are deeply wounded, enraged, and troubled? Why are not more believers deeply wounded, enraged, and troubled? Don’t we weep when others weep (Romans 12:15)?
As a white man, husband, father, and pastor, I desperately desire to understand, listen, converse, extend compassion, help, and earnestly “Learn to do good, seek justice, and correct oppression” (Isaiah 1:17). I condemn the murder of George Floyd and others who deserved dignity as they were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). While I’m eager to bring about change, I’m at a loss of where to start. I know more conversations are needed. I know more bold stances are required in my pulpit. I know loving my neighbor as myself is necessary. I know more of Jesus is the answer!
I recently heard someone say that none of these horrendous acts are new, they are now just being recorded and brought to light. I’m overwhelmed. My gut-level initial reactions to the murder of George Floyd (and others) is deep pain, shock, and disbelief. How can humanity do these atrocious and heinous deeds to itself?
As Christians, we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves! Can I be honest? As a white father, when my daughter began driving, I never thought about talking to her on how she should respond if pulled over by a police officer. We’ve never been afraid for our lives at a traffic stop and simply cannot fathom what my black brothers and sisters feel, think, and experience in those times. A drunk or distracted driver has always been my greatest worry about my kids not coming home from driving.
To my black brothers and sisters, help me understand, even if just a glimpse, and be a better agent of change. It is my burden to bear to set a better example and lead a better way forward for my children and church members. Help me not to overlook your pain. As a pastor, I all too often meet with hurting people and my goal is to always put myself in their shoes so I can have the most compassion and love. Jesus identified with us in every way, yet without sin. Help me be more like Jesus and bring more people to Jesus!
I think most everyone honestly believes that most police officers wear the badge to serve and protect with character and respect for humanity. We all know a ton of great cops. It’s similar to my view on pastors. I believe most “wear the cloth” with the same intentions for the sake of the gospel. I know a ton of great pastors. But, I’ve known some bad pastors — even destructive pastors. I’ve seen men pastor who should have never pastored, as they were only greedy for money, power, and even lust. Some of them deserved to be arrested so justice could be served! These rogue pastors, sadly, give all pastors a bad rap.
The same goes for those bad police officers. The same goes for bad protesters. We need genuine pastors, honest police, peaceful protesters, and the powerful presence of the Lord if we are going to get through this and move towards healing and unity! While there are bad apples (some evil beyond the core) in every bunch, I still have faith in humanity yielded to and guided by Divinity!
We need the peace-giving, heart-healing, life-changing influence and guidance of Jesus. Only He can heal our brokenness! Only He can help us to be angry at sins of injustice, murder, and racism and not sin! Using Isaiah 61 as our guide, I ask You to anoint us Holy Spirit and preach the good news of the gospel every soul so desperately needs! Only You can bring good tidings to the meek! Only You can bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, open prison doors to those who are bound (with sin and by sin), and proclaim the favorable year of the Lord (Isaiah 61:1-2).
May You bring His vengeance to the oppressors and comfort to the mourners. May You bring beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise instead of heaviness. Plant us, Oh Lord, as trees of righteousness — oaks of righteousness — so that You may be glorified (v. 3). Rebuild the ruins of our cities and hearts (v. 4). Instead of shame and chaos, may You bring double honor and everlasting joy (v. 7). For You love justice (v. 8). May righteousness and praise spring forth from every nation (v. 11).
— Stephen Harrison is Lead Pastor at Family Church of White Hall/Pine Bluff.