On Monday, May 25, George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer.
A statement like this, while true, may divide us based on our personal experiences or political and social worldviews. But I believe this tragic event is an opportunity to listen, learn, and pray. I’ve been struggling with putting some of my thoughts and prayers into words, if there is a point, if I have anything to offer, etc., but the tears of my friends and the broken hearts of Christians compels me, so here is a brief reflection:
God hates injustice and George Floyd’s death was unjust. There is no question about that. This is not an indictment on the police. God hates when the police are victims of violence and injustice, too. Whether or not you believe Floyd’s death is representative of a broader trend in America, our belief in Jesus invites us to consider others first and to value others more than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Romans 12:14–16 says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”
When our brothers and sisters of color cry out over another extrajudicial killing of a black man or women, we should listen, ask why, and pray.
The mayor of Minneapolis said, “being black in America should not be a death sentence.” For many people of color in America, this is reality; I cannot imagine how overwhelming and exhausting that feeling is. God has set leaders in place over us as a means of his grace to us, but when those who are charged to care for us do the opposite, it is not only unjust, but also terrifying. There are men and women who live in this fear daily, and the wear of it all on the mind and body can be devastating. Maybe you feel this currently and wish others would understand. Maybe you don’t believe this fear is justified, but people you love, do. Maybe to a certain degree you can understand because you are anxious about the government’s authority and do not trust that they have your best interest in mind.
Out of a love for your neighbor as yourself, I invite you to take a moment now to pray.
Pray that you have increased understanding of others who are different than you. Pray for those who have an increased sense of fear and are overwhelmed because of George Floyd. And Breonna Taylor. And Ahmaud Arbery. Or questions of why the Coronavirus is disproportionately killing Black Americans. Pray for those who are weeping because they do not feel that their life matters. Pray for justice not just in this case, but throughout our land. Pray for the justice Jesus proclaimed when he began his ministry with the words from Isaiah 61, saying: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18–19
This is what we long for, and we cry out, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
What can we do?
It is appropriate to lament and cry out. But it is more appropriate, and necessary to act. Many are asking, “what can I do?” Someone earlier said it feels overwhelming, that I am supposed to fight racism, and poverty, and human trafficking, etc. This is understandable. But what is different about being anti-racist is that we can take small steps now. I don’t think anyone is pro-poverty or pro-trafficking; but are there prejudices you can examine in your own heart? So we can begin with ourselves, and by confronting inappropriate jokes around us, speaking up to friends and family who use prejudiced stereotypes, and so forth. We don’t need to join an organization or send money, and we can start today.
For me, God has worked in my heart through education and opening my eyes to the injustice around me. You can start by taking on the burden of learning. God has brought me on a journey of repentance and faith regarding this conversation and I would love to share it with you.
-Andrew Franklin, Minister of Young Adults