“When the protests are over and the cameras are gone, will you walk with a Black life?” My friends at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in North St. Louis have challenged me with this question. Doing ministry in an African American community, their work among children and families is day in and day out. They are on streets and in homes when others leave.
When your favorite celebrity stops waving the justice flag, when it’s no longer fashionable, will your Black neighbor still matter?
Addressing racism is a long, persistent work. An Instagram post or yard sign is insufficient. Rhetoric must become action.
You might make statements that get you “woke” points. But the way of Christ seeks no self-justification. To “love your neighbor as yourself” is not about you. We are not here to prove how righteous or anti-racist we are.
Ours is the cruciform life, shaped by the way of our Lord. Daily repenting and dying to self. (Repenting of our own racism, known and unknown.) Daily rising to follow Christ toward my neighbor, especially when he or she is in a ditch. Such a life is one of suffering, not recognition.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote that “Unjust suffering is redemptive.” The long-term work of reconciliation requires suffering. Are you ready for that?
Unjust suffering is redemptive." - MLK
Jesus gave a picture of a disciple in the Beatitudes. Toward the end of the list, he said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5;10)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer expounded on this sentence:
This does not refer to the righteousness of God, but to suffering in a just cause, suffering for just judgements and actions . . . Not recognition, but rejection, is the reward they get from the world for their message and works.”
The Kingdom of God is at hand. It won’t be televised. It will come as Jesus leads his people into evil systems and marginalized communities.
When George Floyd cycles out of the news, who will walk with a Black life? That is when the arduous work of justice is tested. Let's keep walking.
LCMS Black Clergy Caucus Statement on George Floyd