23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.(Matthew 5:23-24 NIV).
Even before the first souls were taken from their homes in Western Africa and landed in Virginia in 1619, the Bible, God’s word was already being twisted to justify building the wealth of the western world we know on the backs of slaves. It was simply an act of greed and evil, unprecedented throughout history. They were made to be the Capital that built much of the capital we enjoy today, and they received nothing in return. When it comes to the depth of this issue, I am, at best, a fool, but even a fool like me can see that this is not an issue that will simply go away over time. There are few such examples of broken trust in God’s creation, and such brokenness doesn’t just go away. It only gets deeper and more complicated to mend. We have wronged our brothers and sisters and we’ve never really made it right.
This kind of lack of reconciliation exists even here at Hope. I’ll never forget the first Sunday after our current president was elected. A previous staff member was standing at a booth when a man walked by and said, “Now you people can start working for a living.” She would not tell me who it was and I don’t think he was a member, but, what kind of light do we shine to the world when we care more about our politics, statues and a heritage that’s roughy a couple hundred year old, when eternity is in the balance for our children and for generations to follow. What kind of ministry of reconciliation can we have for the love of Christ if we are not willing to be reconciled to our brothers and sisters.
Today, I’m not talking about a general movement towards justice for the poor and disenfranchised. Their cause is clearly critical, but I do want to be clear when I say that today I am talking about a four hundred year injustice to generations of our brothers and sisters from Africa. …and…In our own fear and inability to comprehend the scope of such actions, we at worst resort to violence, and to fight for a concept of superiority that doesn’t actually exist, or at best, we unconsciously thank God we don’t share that struggle… In the words of James Baldwin, “It is a terrible thing for an entire people to surrender to the notion that one-ninth of its population is beneath them.”
If I say nothing else at all today, I wan’t to say that wherever any of us may find ourselves on this journey toward Godly justice, we can surrender to this notion no longer. If we love our families, churches, communities and even our country, then we need to ask ourselves, what kind of families, churches, communities and country do we want to live in? How do we want to be remembered in eternity. I know when I think about that question and when I think about an even more important question like how can I best be faithful to Christ with the gifts He has given me in my limited time on earth, suddenly faces carved in Rock seem unimportant and faces knit together by our most High God are everything. Maybe we need a new heritage. At least that’s the kind of heritage that I want my family and country to be known for, One that’s known for truly loving God and People.
How Does the Bible, the Gospel Speak To The Current Racial & Civil Unrest? The real question for me is how does it not.