Hard Christian Truths
#BLM Is Proof That The Church Is Failing
Is the gospel enough?
For the last several weeks, I have been trying to find a way to affirm the fact that Blacks lives matter without affirming the #Blacklivesmatter organization and their Marxist ideology and questionable methods.
As a Christian, I want to affirm truth without supporting lies in the process; that’s why the #BLM is a problem for me. But all of the extra effort and handwringing has led me to ask a critical question.
What has happened to the church? Does justice matter to us anymore? Jesus’ ministry was characterized by lifting up the marginalized, addressing corruption and exposing abuse. Examples:
- Jesus gave women a prominent place in his ministry
- Jesus made the hated Samaritans the hero of the story and spent personal time in their community, even when it made his disciples uncomfortable.
- Jesus publicly addressed the religious corruption and spiritual manipulation happening in Israel, and he pointed to a better way.
- Jesus personally interacted with the disabled (blind, crippled, leperous). He looked them in the eyes and never ignored them.
- The movement that Jesus started broke racial boundaries right out of the gate.
Why is it more common today for these social issues to be addressed by politically charged secular organizations instead of the church? Is it not obvious how dangerous it is to associate with these profiteers of pain and abuse?
- Politicians address these issues to garner votes from the marginalized but never make significant changes.
- Musicians and artists ply their trade to draw attention to social issues and failures of the governmental systems, but can’t accumulate enough support to sustain a movement.
- Media outlets sensationalize the stories of the hurting to pull heartstrings and increase their ratings.
But they don’t care. Or else they would use their ill-gotten earnings to relieve the suffering of the masses. They signal their “virtue” and then go along their merry way with a warm fuzzy feeling, looking for another crisis to manipulate.
But there are very few Christians in the trenches, where the battles rage for years instead of weeks. After the news cycles into another hot button issue, most “woke Christians” move on to the next trend and prove their relevance through tweets and social media logic.
The Idolatry of Politics
Jesus purposefully avoided the trap of politics. When the religious leaders tried to trap him into one political ideology or the other, he expertly responded, “Give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God.” Then he went back to talking about the kingdom of God.
This is where the modern church has stumbled. We have fallen into the political trap that Jesus so adeptly avoided. We prefer to explain the virtues of our political perspective and how it better helps the poor and provides justice, rather than maintaining our focus on the perfect justice that only a sinless God can provide.
The realm of justice belongs to the church. Precisely because the core of Christian ideology is others-centered. This is how we proclaim the goodness of our Savior by acting justly, loving mercy & walking humbly with God. There have been several examples in recent history where the church fulfilled its mandate and resulted in real change.
During the emancipation of the slaves in the UK and America, the church was leading the charge. William Wilberforce’s desire to put his Christian principles into action led to his involvement in the UK’s abolitionist movement.
Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church joined forces to play an essential role in abolishing slavery in America.
The famous Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison (whose anti-slavery newspaper the Liberator was fueled by his constant bible reading and desire to act justly and speak on behalf of the disenfranchised) changed the course of America’s future.
Women like Lucretia Mott led the decades’ long fight for women’s suffrage. She dedicated her whole life, fighting for equal rights for women and blacks. These passions were informed by her Quaker upbringing, which taught that all people are equals.
The Black church united to proclaim the truth and stand for equality during the Civil rights movement, while sadly, the White Evangelical Church was either silent or antagonistic.
One strange observation is that the church continues to be a herald for justice internationally, but struggles with these same issues at home. Outside of the US, the church is present in every natural disaster. They are actively seeking justice for victims of sex trafficking and abuse. I know this because I work in humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and I work alongside many great people who are here to pursue justice in the name of Jesus Christ. But evidently, things are more complicated in America (sarcasm).
Within the borders of America, the church is confused and distracted. We look for inspiration in the strangest of places (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter), when we have all the motivation we need in God’s unchanging Word (Micah 6:8). And we have a solid foundation of truth to build on if we were to devote ourselves to obeying Jesus’ teachings.
Classes, genders, and races divide the world, but in His church, we are all equal. We are adopted children coming from diverse backgrounds and circumstances but accepted and loved by an Amazing Father that wants the very best for each one of us. But as members of his global family, he also wants us to participate in the family business.
There are great Christian organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, who meet practical needs and fight human trafficking both in the US and abroad in the name of a loving Savior. I am thankful for them, but Samaritan’s Purse is not the church. And though they can do some amazing things, it was the church’s mission to do all of these things because God wanted us to be personally involved.
He wanted us to look people in the eye, have a meal together, pray with each other, and build cross-cultural friendships. Americans prefer to throw money at a problem rather than get their hands dirty, but these problems will require us to get our hands dirty, there is no way around it.
If Jesus can come down from his throne and spend 33 years here on earth serving us, is it too much to ask for us to set aside some personal time to fight injustice in His name?
Church, It’s time to stop following social justice movements that have dubious beginnings and hidden agendas. Instead, let us promote inner change that will turn the world upside down, like Jesus, and his disciples did. It’s not about inviting people to church. Let’s start with prayer and fasting, then meeting practical needs and standing up for the marginalized, no matter who they are. Don’t get pulled into the political banter; focus on people. Talk about their value and God’s eternal law, which supersedes any political entity. We don’t promote these values for others to see on social media to build ourselves up, nor do we forget the forgotten when the rest of the world moves on to another social topic. We will stay the course and fight for justice for the sake of righteousness. I’ll see you out there. — j
Thank you to churches like Wilcrest Baptist Church in Houston, TX, who is leading the way as shining light of multi-ethnic diversity and unity.
Thank you to the thousands of Black churches who have led the way for hundreds of years and sacrificed dearly for the sake of freedom and justice.
Originally published at https://www.jtaliaferro.com on June 28, 2020.