Preserved - A Letter to My Black Pastors
I am exhausted. The last two weeks of media coverage about the murder of George Floyd by a former Minneapolis police officer has emotionally and spiritually worn me out. There were images of protesters marching peacefully, police kneeling, police attacking protestors and, of course, violent looters. But the crazy part is, I knew watching these images and seeing the many posts on social media (including family members deleting and blocking each other!!!) was probably not the best use of my time. But I watched anyway.
When Sunday came, I was happy because I needed a virtual word of encouragement from my pastor on how to navigate all that was going on. He addressed the protests as part of his message. Moreover, he said that when confronted with injustice, Christians needed to respond with Christ-like love which I agree with. But I found myself wanting to hear more about justice and getting frustrated.
Then I had to ask myself: why was I getting frustrated? Was I unreasonable in expecting my pastor to also talk about racial and social justice? After praying about it, I realized that I believe that showing Christian love is a part of the solution on how to deal with injustice. But I don’t think it is the only answer. The call for justice must also be a part of the solution.
So, I ask Black Pastors: what are you doing to equip your Black Christian church members on how to deal with the current racial and political environment? Teaching Christians reconciliation during times of division is very important but should there also be teachings on justice? I am not telling pastors how to do their job during this difficult time, but I’m just wondering if teaching only about love and reconciliation is the best way to prepare us for issues that will most certainly impact us either directly or indirectly.
Proverbs 21:5 says, “When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.” Isaiah 30:18 reminds us that God is a “God of Justice.” Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Proverbs 22:8 says, “Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail.” Depending on the version you use, there are between 28 (King James) and 167 (New Living references to justice in the Bible. With these many references, justice was obviously important to God.
Last week, I watched an online teaching from Pastor Claudette Copeland who shared that even though oppression against Jews was increasing in Nazi Germany, those who believed that things would not get that bad, stayed and many perished in the concentration camps. But those who were alarmed about what they saw left because they too note of the signs of what was to come. This makes me wonder if pastors who teach only love and reconciliation as the solution to racial and social injustice are naively leaving their Black church members unprepared for what is to come.
Shewanda Riley is a Dallas-based author of “Love Hangover: Moving from Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @shewanda.