The following is a development of the Facebook post I wrote and posted last Sunday about the terrible killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis on Monday 25th May. This event has sparked outrage and condemnation worldwide. Many have come onto the streets to demonstrate and demand justice and a change in how Minority communities are treated in the US – I am sure you are aware of the scenes on our screens and devices. George Floyd’s death is similar to the 2014 killing of African American, Eric Garner in New York.
There is a righteous, deep-seated anger at what has taken place, has been taking place for generations, and at the lack of change and common decency that is being shown. Righteous anger is a profound biblical truth – the biblical way is that in our anger we do not sin. The anger of so many in the United States at the injustice and ongoing, generational failure to recognise the validity of the African American communities’ sense of injustice, unfairness and racial prejudice – is a great shame on that nation. May George Floyd’s death and the outpouring of grief, anger and injustice on the streets lead to a new era of dialogue, commitment to change the status quo, and hope for the African American people.
I want to ask at this point: 1. Why are Black Americans treated in such ways? 2. Especially, does the society not view with shame how young African American men are so maligned, treated and not supported?
The issues facing many young African American men in the States are well documented. It is one thing to be aware of something – it is quite another to make transforming their lives in positive ways a major priority. If this is to change then it will require for there to be a huge national focus given to it for several generations. The US will need to commit huge national resources, compassion, understanding in a non-judgmental way, love and prayer in order to change the context for their lives away from the present reality to a brighter future. They are Americans and deserve the dignity, respect and support same as any citizen.
Whenever people use the language of mistrust, hatred, fear, bigotry and entitlement – it always creates a ‘them and us’ outlook which produces the right conditions for Racism and Prejudice.
Why do so many white Americans treat Minority races in the States with so much contempt and fear? I know I am generalising and there are many who do not – but the number of those who do is still significant.
- Is it because of a sense of divine entitlement that makes them feel superior to African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and anyone else they deem beneath them?
- Is it an unsanctified controlling fear – the fear of difference, of losing what they think is theirs by divine right, of believing that their lives are more valuable and important than the lives of those of a different skin colour or religion?
- Is it because they unthinkingly hold to a prejudiced outlook on life that they were nurtured with?
- Is it because they do not care about anyone else from another race as long as they can continue with their own nice lives?
I don’t know – I am just asking questions.
A Global Problem
Across the globe ‘them and us’ is dominating the State Atheism of Communist China as it persecutes Tibetans, Muslims and Christians – in Turkey as Erdogan attacks and seeks to ethnically cleanse Turkey of the Kurdish people – Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya people – and so I could go on right across the globe. Minorities, and those the ruling classes devalue in their own minds, are treated with contempt, indifference and without due respect. In this nation are we any better? Of course not – fear and a sense of entitlement are just as rife in the UK as anywhere else…
Some of the saddest things I find, as I listen to stories from around the world from the people groups persecuted, mistreated or racially abused, the common narrative they share is of feeling like second class citizens, of feeling less value as a human being, of not feeling that they are respected compared to those who mistreat them.
Missing the Bigger Picture
I have read comments and posts from many different people on the situation in the States. A lot are looking at in terms of the destruction of property, the lack of respect being shown to law enforcement officers, the unreasonableness of many of the protestors. I am no Social Scientist, Behaviourist, nor social commentator, but I think they are missing what is happening.
This isn’t just about a feeling of injustice over the terrible things that have happened, although of course it does include that – it is the outpouring of the very pain accumulated over hundreds of years of a whole race of people. It is the very soul of Black men, women, young people and children crying out in pain over an accumulation of over a thousand years of mistreatment, slavery and conquest of their homelands by invaders and foreigners. I may be wrong – but this is what I sense is happening.
I believe it is what academics call the Zeitgeist of this epoch of world history. If the United States – and every nation where Black men, women, young people and children live, are citizens, work and contribute so much – does not seize the opportunity that is being presented, I firmly believe it is an opportunity to change the very outlook of Society in a positive, wonderful way, then I believe they will forfeit influence, power and wealth going forward into the future.
A Prophetic Voice
Prophetically, I believe God is calling the world to change how it views others. Of course there are a lot of things that are dishonouring to God taking place in the protests, and in many of the other great Societal changes taking place – but we shouldn’t lose sight that the values of the Kingdom of God are inherent irrespective of gender, race or ability. God is no respecter of persons.
As a Christian man and pastor, I know that it is only in Christ that a person, or nation, can truly please Father God. Yet, Common Grace, and the revelation of the character and nature of the Creator, tell me that human dignity, love, peace, compassion, respect and generosity of spirit are all divine qualities still evident in human society. It is these qualities that many have been deprived off.
I believe God is at work and Satan hates this moment. God, in Christ, lifts people onto a higher plain; Satan seeks to divide, destroy and desecrate the very image of God still evident in humanity.
Jesus often asked deep, searching, probing questions; He didn’t always answer His questions but used them as a way of drawing people into dialogue with Himself and God’s purposes for their lives. He also challenged men, women, young people and children to think theologically – what does the Bible say about my attitude towards God, and from this base my attitude towards others – how I grant them the dignity and respect all human beings deserves.
Jesus said we should love our enemies and pray for them; interestingly, His main opponents were those from His own people, the Jewish religious and political leaders who felt threatened by His popularity among the ordinary Jewish people. Although He certainly had followers among the ruling classes, many of His followers came from the ordinary men and women, the poor, marginalised, broken and suffering, and the good, upright and morally lovely Jewish people. By His love, and grace-filled religious, moral and ethical Gospel message, He antagonised the rulers, but these same qualities attracted multitudes to follow Him.
Jesus’ principle enemies were Satan, sin and the power of self reigning in human hearts – human pride, arrogance and religion – hypocrisy, entrenched attitudes and human anger and hatred. He fearlessly rebuked, challenged and sought to present a different perspective on the important things in life. He opened doors to unparalleled opportunity to please God that many had been excluded from – while closing the doors to those who thought they were in need of nothing. His Kingdom of Shalom, and Gospel message of salvation ultimately overthrew the great Roman Empire and ushered in the Age of Grace we still live in.
In the few instances when those from outside His community are mentioned – apart from the Roman authorities, they show Him respect and desire to hear Him with open hearts. Jesus also said we should love our neighbours as ourselves – irrespective if our neighbour has a different skin colour, comes from a different culture, or practices a different religion. Jesus did not mean by this a selfish love for oneself above others; no – He certainly did not! He said our first duty is to love God and believe in Him – then we can truly love ourselves as His servants and followers. Out of this salvation security we then can love our neighbours whether they are from a different race, culture, or even economic strata in society. Only in Christ can ‘them and us’ be turned into ‘we are one people.’
Father, the anger and sense of injustice is profound at what happened, and at what has been allowed to happen for hundreds of years. We pray for a new dawn of hope for all Minorities in the United States. Heal their pain – the common pain of all those who are hurting so terribly because of the actions of others. May justice and liberty, and freedom flow down like a mighty river in every State, city, town and community. Comfort the broken hearts, heal the pain – may justice and true equality of dignity and rights come – hear the cry for change evident in the deep-seated righteous anger and sense of injustice – and may Your Kingdom come and Your will be done for every citizen of the United States, and every place in our world where prejudice, persecution and injustice reign. In Jesus’ name. Amen