If we refuse to deal with the injustice around us, can we effectively share Christ with the world? I don’t mean the disagreements that break through our comfort and bother us as individuals, I mean the injustice our neighbors are experiencing. If we are not shaken to the core by the injustice others experience then can we really call ourselves Christ followers?
We’ve stood on the sidelines to long
As a church, historically, we stand on the sidelines and allow injustice to continue. We are apathetic and complicit; more concerned with the color of the church’s carpet, the potluck menu, contemporary vs. traditional music, and all of the trivial than we are about the injustice enacted on human bodies.
It’s time to declare war on injustice in order to live out our calling. We have to be obedient to Jesus when he said to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
It’s time to confront our own shortcomings
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin (James 4:17, ESV).” We can debate the injustice of racism, misogyny, rape, economic systems that oppress others but if we do not confront our roles in broken systems we will never move forward.
It’s easy to see ourselves as the oppressed in the Bible. We identify with Moses as he leads obstinate people. We insert ourselves into the story of Joseph being bullied and sold by his brothers. We identify with Paul as he preaches and is imprisoned for his faith.
But we are not always the oppressed. Christians have historically operated as the oppressor as well.
We have been Egypt. American slaves were denied access to the freedom other Christians were granted. Scripture was debated and interpreted to keep them in bondage. Slaves identified with Moses and the Israelites, the white American church more closely resembled Egypt.
We are Joseph’s brothers. While his brothers plan to murder him and leave his body, Reuben convinces them to throw him alive into a pit. When Reuben isn’t looking, Joseph is sold into slavery. Church, we have operated as both the brothers intent on harm and as Reuben who did not fully confront the injustice in front of him. (Genesis 37)
But we can be Paul. Paul believed he was doing what was right. He hunted down and killed Christ followers believing fully that what he was doing was God ordained. He was wrong. Once his role in injustice was revealed to him (Acts 9) he repented and changed his ways. Instead of denying who he was in the past, he used it to propel him into serving Christ!
Let’s move forward
To move forward we have to first confess our involvement in the injustice that has happened. We grieve and repent of how we have fallen short. Then we change. We use that pain from the past to propel us into the future. We learn from the mistakes and we start knocking down walls of injustice and hate.
Move forward! Love your neighbor. Play your part in the blessings of a better tomorrow. Declare war on injustice!
To learn more about the roots of sustained racism and injustice in the American church and what to do about it, read The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby.