On the night of July 5th, yet another fatal police shooting of a black man occurred. His name is Alton Sterling. The video of the incident is completely gut-wrenching, and the statement by the family with his son crying caused tears to form in my eyes. The very next day Philando Castile was shot by police, and lay dying as his girlfriend was on Facebook Live recounting what had just occurred. After both of these horrific circumstances, five police officers were murdered in Dallas as well! I don’t even have the space to go in-depth as I’d like.
For years now we’ve seen the cycle: fatal encounters between police and black men, debates, protests, offensive statements, riots, and more. It’s gotten to the point where you just don’t know what to do anymore at times. You feel weary, exhausted, and exasperated.
It has also made many of us as Christians more aware of the racial issues that exist in the Church, even though race is just a social construct. Within this construct, there is a systemic level of inequity in so many areas. However; the unfortunate approach of many, white as well as others, is usually one of deflection, dismissal, or antagonism to the issues raised by blacks.
What ends up being overlooked is the reality that image bearers, who are crowned with glory and honor like the rest of humanity, had their lives taken away. Taken away for something that never should’ve gotten to this point in the first place. A lot of what we heard consisted of deflection (#AllLivesMatter, “we don’t have all the facts yet”), dismissal (“what about black on black crime”), and antagonism (“shouldn’t have resisted”, “if you followed orders you’d still be here”).
Ask yourself, has actual concern for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile crossed your mind even once as you talked about this on social media? How about the loss of two fathers that their children are dealing with? Ever wondered about their relationship with Christ and where their eternal resting place is? Are you concerned with the fallout from this, as Satan and demons that follow him take advantage of this moment, to incite murderous violence and the appeal of false ideologies and religions? Are you aware of the exodus of former black Christians in this year alone who think the Church will never care about them like the Nation of Islam, Hebrew Israelites, or other black nationalistic groups will? As we unfortunately have seen, one of these things has tragically occurred already. Do we have to see the rest of my questions answered before you treat them as God designed them to be treated?
There’s Disparity In Our Response
When the Dallas officers were senselessly murdered, there was an immediate response of grief, anger, and rejection from the same black community overall that had to process the loss of black men two days in a row. The lack of concern for image bearers reared its ugly head again when the coverage of these incidences was drastically different. For Alton, his past criminal record was brought up, and many commented that he shouldn’t have resisted. The claim of resistance was brought up for Philandro as well. However, there has been an outpouring of grief for the officers, even before the facts of the situation were fully revealed. In the case of blacks, the call to “wait for all the facts” was immediate, yet for the police it was immediate grief.
This is not a complaint against the sadness expressed for these innocent officers. Families have lost husbands, fathers, as well as a fellow believer in Christ. I know too many police officers to minimize the constant danger they’re in, which they have to face daily! It’s something we need to be sensitive to ALOT more than we usually are. This is to show the harm in treating those created in the image of God differently.
To stand up for the oppressed and disenfranchised has never been a stance that is popular or understood by most of the population the oppression exists in. If it did, God wouldn’t have cried out through His prophets to care for the orphaned, poor, and widowed. He wouldn’t have responded through His power directly or through a nation towards nations that allows injustice to continue for generations.
Why was God so persistent in calling for justice? Why was His response so INTENSE towards nations who didn’t reverse their sin of injustice and inequity? It is because when people who are made in His image aren’t treated with value, it’s a problem. A big problem.
Please I implore you, take the time to examine your thinking, and where your heart truly is in life. Be quick to listen and slow to speak as James 1:19 says. Pray that the Lord makes your perspective His, and think about the people that are affected BEYOND what you see. Salvation is literally at stake for some people, and if you truly cared about that, your response would be incredibly different to many circumstances. There’s only so much hardness of heart that God will tolerate before leaving you to yourself. We will give an account of how we responded to unjustified losses of life, what will your account look like?