The slogan ‘Black lives matter’ has been trending on social media lately, following the killing of George Floyd, the black American, at the hands of certain policemen. The slogan has been challenged with a counter slogan, ‘All Lives Matter’. It sounds like a suitable correction. ALL lives do matter don’t they? Yes, of course. But, isn’t that obvious? That’s the point. It's a statement that doesn’t need to be made nearly as much as the one about black lives. Some people still suffer in America and the UK for simply being a different colour.
Let’s ask a question or two.
Should followers of Jesus stand up for black rights as much as other people, if not more?
If Jesus walked the earth today would he stand up for black rights and rally around the cry for black lives to matter?
Time to check out God's word. Listen to this.
In Isaiah 1v17 we are told to ‘learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.'
In Psalm 68v5 the Lord is described as a ‘Father to the fatherless and a protector of widows’. Now let this verse hit you right between the eyes:
“‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ Deuteronomy 27v19
The widows, orphans and immigrants often had less help, less rights and were treated less than fairly back then. What does God say he’ll do to anyone who treats the weak, the vulnerable, the unfortunate and the minority groups badly? Curse them! Fair to say, he would be pretty passionate about black rights today.
Now let’s run through a couple of hypothetical dialogues Jesus might have had with folk when he actually walked the earth.
Jesus: ‘I care about these guys. Lepers matter.’
‘But Jesus, surely all lives matter’
Jesus: ‘Of course, but who is caring for the leper right now?’
Jesus: ‘I also care about the tax collectors’
‘But Jesus, all lives matter, and besides, lots of the tax collectors are involved in criminal activity.’
Jesus: ‘I didn’t come for the righteous, and who else is caring for these guys?!’
I guess you know where I’m going by now - the so called sinners of the day, the woman caught in adultery, the Samaritan woman, the gentile centurion. Jesus was for the underdog, always.
Like Jesus, we have to be those who care about others not having the same rights and privileges that we do, and, in some instances, suffering prejudice and abuse.
So here’s the challenge for us as followers of Jesus today,
We are Christ’s ambassadors, we are walking demonstrations of his character, we are Christ to this world. What do people think about Jesus when they see us?
Apparently, one Sunday morning Gandhi decided to visit one of the Christian churches in Calcutta. As he tried to enter the church sanctuary, the ushers blocked his path. They told him he wasn’t welcome, nor would he ever be allowed to attend this particular church because it was only for high-caste Indians and whites. He was neither high caste, nor white. As a result of that single event, Gandhi rejected the Christian faith, and never again considered the claims of Christ. He was turned off by the sin of segregation that was practiced by the church, and that experience of rejection prompted his declaration: “I’d be a Christian if it were not for the Christians.”
If I’m honest with you, I sometimes wonder whether I am more judgey, apathetic and, well, just plain boring in front of a watching world than being a mirror reflecting the beauty of Jesus. I wonder how many non Christians who know me, if they ever read this, would be nodding their heads right now. Heck, probably a few of my brothers in Christ are probably nodding - please stop if you are :)
May we today be like our amazing Jesus. May we be filled with care and compassion for those who really need it from us. May we be careful how we think and talk about people. May our words be full of grace and kindness and empathy. May we love those who no-one else is really loving right now, for whatever reason … whatever reason.