"Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. (Eccl 4:1, NASB)
I've started, deleted and restarted this post several times. The first time, there was anger and hostility. I'm tired of seeing black families in tears and hearing the question, "why do they hate us so much?" Then, when I tried again, there was lingering anger and hostility over the loss of black lives and the intentional, divisive nature of politics and media when it comes to black people. The scores of people who proclaimed they "didn't know" racism was "still going on", pushed me over the edge again. I wanted to severely reprimand the Bible-thumping humans of America that seem to repeatedly miss the command to love your neighbor as yourself, treat others the way you want to be treated...The Bible-thumpers that take thousand-mile trips to do mission work in other countries, but won't look twice at the people in their own backyard who are dying in the streets at the hands of racism and capitalism--the peanut butter and the jelly--deserved a reprimand for their complacency. And I was ready to give it.
But my spirit pulled me back. I was reminded that if I cannot speak to you in love, we will both miss the lesson and an opportunity to reach a higher level of understanding. I took my heavy heart to the Bible and then kneeled in prayer for the best direction and in a few days, the above verse from Ecclesiastes gave me new insight: the master comforter (2 Cor 1:3-7) is missing from all of our hearts. The oppressed are tired of waiting to be seen and understood, so they now will demand it. Loudly. Resiliently. Radically-right the root. The oppressors believe they haven't don't anything wrong and that those were their ancestors' mistakes from long ago. They have cleansed themselves of guilt and turned a blind eye/heart to the continued calamity of the past. The word of God has been used for cute anecdotes and for justifying political policies, but not to transform the hearts and minds of neither the oppressed or the oppressor. We both--the oppressor and the oppressed--need God.
It is a hard lesson. It's a hard lesson to hear and to teach, that the people who hurt you need God for deliverance from their self-centered hearts, as much as you need Him for deliverance from your dehumanized, devalued life and status. Who really wants to hear it?
It's self-centered. I know. And I feel justified for it. The enslaved Africans and their descendants' dehumanized and devalued lives experience far more detriment than that of the oppressor and the oppressive system. I know, everyone has troubles, but not everyone fears dying at the hands of a police officer, or the perpetual ramifications of legislation that made you 3/5ths of a person, or the ever-shifting and salacious plays of politics. If anybody deserves God's deliverance, I believe it's my people. But that's the wrong mindset for me, if I call myself a Christian. My mind should filter the situation through God and love them anyway, point them back to the loving ways of Christ. And if I wish to reap the benefits of heaven, I better sow God in love. I need to direct people back to the master comforter in love--not just through beating them with the Bible. If I am going to change racism, I better appeal to the God-centered hearts and minds of Christians that don't look like me.
My Appeal To The Oppressor (A Very Tiny Piece)
Ignorance of racism and being racist are unaddressed matters of the heart. Christians who cannot see that every person in this world is valued by God, missed the lesson on leaving the ninety-nine sheep to go get the one. You have missed that your neighbor is not, literally, the person to the left and the right of your house. It is everyone. The opportunity to do good unto all people is still expected of you and it is an affordable task when you reach with a godly mindset first. See the life and struggles of someone outside your circle. Yes, your neighbor's dog died of natural causes, but Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and way too many others were forced to surrender their lives on account of someone's determination that their lives didn't mean much anyway. Christ was handing out miracles like they were mixtapes--anybody could get one. He didn't ask size, height, eye color, hair texture--nothing. There was love for everybody. Even if you don't agree with every black movement, look first, with love and then seek to understand. Educate yourself and be an active part of change. Rely on the master comforter that God is and imitate His ways.
My Appeal To The Oppressed (Very Tiny)
To the oppressed, there is comfort in God--not complacency--comfort. Getting to know Him reveals just how great you are in spite of what others say. Christ believed you were worth His death and then He knew He had to rise because you would need a friend that sticks closer than a brother, so on the third day He rose again. There is spiritual victory in Jesus and in knowing that what you build with Him is spiritually untouchable. There is transforming power in the words of the Bible. You are made in the image of God. You are worth love. No one can bind your spirit or your mind with chains. The Father knows every hair that is on your head. You are allowed to be angry with the situation and required not to sin. You can still go get it corrected in love. You still have the power to make effective changes. It is in you. Lean on the master comforter that God is and take your value back through Him.
Finally, it is by no means that I accept the ill-treatment of any group of people or that I am choosing to recklessly abandon the well-deserved recompense for the centuries of incurred damages to the entire black community. I believe, wholeheartedly, that amends must be made and they must began today, so that they are part of the natural ways of this country in the future. Policies must be amended or overturned and new ones must be written. Space must be made for a multitude of black people to occupy seats, several seats, in political offices and corporate corner offices with windows all around and for black interests to be a CONSISTENT mainstream thought followed by action. Simply, what I'm offering to the conversation is that God is our best refuge and our best transforming tool. Dr. King's work was revolutionary in that he did it with a God first mentality. Even my original favorite, Malcolm X, came to see that the way was through a godly mentality.
In the face of both, oppressing and oppression, there is a God that will use you to straighten what is crooked and to fix what is broken, if you yield to Him. If you're transformed by Him. If you see Him and all of His people.