With the current state of the world, I've observed that there are predominantly two large groups of christians spreading messages loudly across social media platforms. Both groups agree that injustice is a problem, but the proposed remedy is different. One group says just pray for change of hearts, don't go out and protest. Another group aligns themselves with social injustice movements full force, making no mention of God in the process.
Both of these extremes are wrong.
So let's address each one and talk about what we should be doing.
* If you are unclear about what the Word of God says about justice and social climate / interaction, see my last blog post.
Group 1: "Racial injustice is a result of a heart problem, our focus should be on praying for hearts to change!"
Yes, racial injustice is a result of a heart problem [Luke 6:45]. In fact, all of the issues we face in this world ultimately stem from a heart problem; the human race is innately wicked and sinful by nature [Jeremiah 17:9, Psalm 51:5, Romans 3:23]. Additionally, prayer is one of our connections to God and the way we communicate to Him. Prayer should be something we engage in often; the Lord even encourages us to petition Him [Jeremiah 29:12, 2 Chronicles 7:14, 1 John 5:15, Matthew 7:7,8]. Should our action stop at prayer though? The answer is NO, our prayer should be followed by action [James 1:22-25]. (There are, of course, different people with different roles to play, however, I am speaking about christians as a whole, as a body [1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27]). Prayer precedes the action God calls us to take, it isn't the full breadth of the action. During the time of judgement the Lord is not going to bring up if we prayed for food for the hungry, but if we fed the hungry; He is not going to bring up if we prayed for clothes for the naked, but if we clothed the naked [Matthew 25:31-46]. Again, I am speaking about the christian body as a whole, thus we ought to be praying about what the Lord would have us individually to do, and then do it. When Jesus (our ultimate example) was on this earth, He not only prayed, but interacted with folks. It was ultimately through this interaction with the outcasts, along with the performance of various miracles, and His fulfillment of the word, that others came to glorify the God of Israel [Matthew 15:29-31, Luke 7:11-18, John 2:23; 4:9-29]. Prayer alone is not the answer; it is the power fuel for the action.
Group #2: "Racial injustice must end! We should all be out protesting these wrongdoings!"
Yes, racial injustice must end, and yes, we should protest wrongdoings. If, after prayer, one feels it is their duty to actively protest, then absolutely yes, that person should protest. Should our action stop at protesting though? Not exactly. The way we protest, and what we proclaim / declare while protesting, matters. As christians, we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this world, meaning that we are to go where He sends, and to do what He desires for us to do. What we often miss, however, is that in all that we say/do, and wherever we go, everything should point back to Christ [Matthew 5:14-16, Acts 10:42, Colossians 3:23]. Our mission on this earth is to tell others about Jesus and His love, making disciples of men [Matthew 28:16-20]. Jesus must be brought into the picture. We should not just go to protest after protest, and demonstration after demonstration, for example, and leave out the fact that Jesus has the answers for our problems, especially our heart problems [Ezekiel 36:26-27, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:29]. We cannot give full vent to our fear or anger [Proverbs 15:18; 29:11, Ephesians 4:26-27, 2 Timothy 1:7, James 1:19-20], and get so overcome with emotion [Proverbs 25:28], that we completely forget who our hope is in, and the kind of future He promises [Romans 8:28, Phillipians 4:13, James 1:12, Revelation 21]. It is our duty to bring Christ to others. I'd also like to note here that the oppressor is included! We, as christians, must also remember that the Lord is interested in the transformation of the oppressor as well. To the oppressed, we tell them of Jesus' love, that they are not different, and that Jesus can rescue them. To the oppressor, we tell them there is a better way, and in love, we show them the error, offering them Jesus, the One who will transform them. The Lord desires for ALL of us to have a chance at repentance, He wishes none to perish (Proverbs 28:13, Luke 5:32; 15:7, John 3:16-17, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 John 1:9). We ought to protest and take action, but we must ensure that we spread the proper message in the process.
Whether you find yourself having fallen under one of the extremes, or whether you are already somewhere in the middle, I pray that the message offered here has reached you.
1. Pray - We must first pray to God about what to do.
2. Act - We then take the action God told us to.
3. Proclaim - While we act, we spread God's loving gospel message.
I hope that you are inspired to move in the direction that God calls you to move in. Let's continue to pray for each other as we wait on the return of Jesus, and act in the ways that God calls us to.