There’s an account of reform in the Scriptures that I think gives us the long-term vision for justice and maintaining a Christ-centered outlook when we see the injustices that we’re protesting against today. In 2 Kings chapter 23, there’s an account of huge reforms that King Josiah put in place, so that Israel would be restored in their relationship with YHWH. They also touch on the injustice taking place prior to the reforms. One thing that stands out to me is that with the reforms he enacted, after he died Israel turned away from these reforms. I picked verses three, eight, and twelve below with some of the reforms described.
As I read about these reforms, the feeling I get is that, “Great, Israel is doing what’s right! It took some time, but there’s repentance and reform.” Yet Israel turned away from those reforms and ultimately ended up in Babylonian exile. What that showed me is that when reforms are put in place, even though it wasn’t stated explcitly, there were people who didn’t want to reform Israel. I think this is very helpful when it comes to fighting for reform today.
When we look back at the civil rights movement that brought reform to our educational systems, and gave us more civil rights in American society, not every American supported it. In fact, there was fierce opposition, even to the point of violence. Today there still exists different issues of inequity that need to be addressed, even with the advances we’ve made. This will help us to manage our expectations, and move forward with perseverance for what we’re protesting and crying out for when we want justice. Justice will take place, but there will also be resistance and even failure, due to the sinful nature of humanity.
This leads me to another truth that we can’t forget. We can’t say that we’ve been praying and peacefully protesting for hundreds of years, and dismiss the value they hold because racism and systemic inequity still exists. Although some have used prayer as an excuse to not get active, prayer plays a key role. Prayer leads us towards Christ, who leads us towards the right perspective. When we pray fervently, there is a supernatural response to what is at it’s core a supernatural problem, and we ourselves are strengthened by God to persevere without becoming bitter or apathetic.
The only way we’ll eliminate racism and systemic inequity in every way is when Jesus returns to establish His kingdom reign on the earth, and rids this planet of sin. This should not lead us to apathy, where we throw up our hands and dismissively say, “Just preach the gospel.” We don’t do this when it comes to other issues that are important to the church, like sex trafficking, religious persecution, abortion, and homosexuality. We speak up and even have plans of how to engage with what God has shown us is important to Him.
My expectation is that progress is made when justice is advocated for, and measurable change is seen. Not whether we fully eliminate racism, which is a matter of the human heart and spiritual wickedness. I encourage you all to ground your expectations in this reality as well. Many people around you won’t have that same Kingdom perspective in mind, and therefore may have a different expectation of what successful protest and reform looks like.
As the nation continues to wrestle with the wounds of racism and injusticed that is embedded in its fabric, I pray that your heart is encouraged as you see many around you rising up to pray, advocate, and work towards a just and equitable society. Let us remember that Christ has blessed us with a Kingdom perspective, and has equipped us to live it out loud in our lives!