Yesterday I woke up, and as I have done for many weeks tuned into church service online. This past couple of weeks, I have been grateful that I am still expected to stay at home and shelter in place. And I say this not because I am grateful for the pandemic and the pain it’s caused but because I am grateful that I do not have to put myself in places where my pain is not recognized. As a Christian, I am pained to say many times one of these places has been the church.
The Christian Church has historically been silent on issues of racism. There have been pockets and abolitionists that were Christians or Quakes, but the majority have been silent. I wonder if churches understand how it feels to come into the House of the Lord with a broken heart, and no one around you addresses it? Do you think that the words we hear or the songs we sing are truly having an impact? My soul cannot be fed, if it’s in pain.
Last week I listened to a conversation between Pastor Carl Lentz from Hillsongs NYC and Bishop T.D Jakes. They talked openly and honestly about the state of this country and its history. Pastor Carl Lentz listened and allowed a Black man to educate him on his experience. Bishop T.D Jakes brought up the story of the Good Samaritan. For those who are not familiar, Jesus tells the story of a man who is robbed and beaten up on the side of the road. Two religious leaders walk by, see the man, and cross to the other side. A Samaritan man, the Jews did not like Samaritans, saw the man, and took him to an inn to receive care. Bishop T.D Jakes said that historically the church has been the two religious leaders that crossed the road. Black people are crying out saying we’re bleeding, and no one is coming to help us. There have been reports that Christianity is declining in this country. Fewer people are going to church and many that do go are leaving. I think the church has no one to blame but themselves. People are watching, and wondering how you can speak so passionately in other areas, but when a man is murdered or children are imprisoned we sit quietly.
The Bible is filled with Jesus telling stories about the Pharisees and their inability to have hearts for God. And I think this is on purpose. I think Jesus knew our hearts as humans and how we can uphold the religious laws, but we will turn our backs on those who are hurting. Jesus has instructed us to take care of the widows, and the orphans. He says Blessed are those who are fighting for justice, for they will be filled.
I think the modern-day church has been quiet because they are ashamed of their past. Historically, the bible and the church have been used to support the institution of slavery. Verses were dissected to compare the Egyptians held in slavery to the African slaves. Slaves eventually adopted the religion of their slave owners and would hold separate services, because white people would not fellowship with us. White people prayed to Jesus, a man who was murdered by the government for preaching peace and missed the irony. There are injustices happening every day in this country, and the church is as silent as a church mouse. Or the church comes out and supports the people committing these crimes because we have been led to believe that abortion rights and gay rights are worth turning our backs on the murders of black and brown people. If the life of an unborn child matters that deeply to you, how can you then say that George Floyd’s death mattered less?
Over the past week, I have seen more pastors speaking out against racism than at any other time in my lifetime. I think it’s easier to preach to a screen than it is to say these words with your parishioners looking back at you. I pray that when we are all able to bring the church body back into the building, that we don’t become fearful of speaking the truth. For me personally, I know that this is something I will commit my life to. I want this verse to be a tenet of my life and my blog: Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.- Proverbs 31:8-9
I pray that you will join me.