The events over the last eight days have brought our country to the brink of divisiveness that we have not seen in fifty years. Following the horrific death of George Floyd, people have taken to the streets to voice their displeasure with the injustices in our system. Some of the protests have turned violent. Those incidents have made the news. Many of the protests were peaceful. Those demonstrations (for the most part) did not make the news. (One notable exception was the response of our own Genesee county Sheriff, Chris Swanson).
Most everyone I know who has seen the George Floyd video were horrified. No one wants to see a man die before our eyes. No matter the circumstances.
I worry for our children. When I was a kid, I never saw anything like that video. When I was kid, no one had video cameras. When I was a teenager, a few people had big clunky VHS video recorders. Unless the person owned a TV station, the only people who watched their home videos were guests in their living room. Now everyone with a phone has a video recorder. It fits in their pocket. The video recorded then can be easily distributed to the world on various social media outlets. When injustices or crimes or problems happen now, the world gets to see it because we are a video taking generation. Children now see such horrific images far too often.
You’ve then heard that argument, “We didn’t see what happened before the video started.” What makes this horrible case, in front of us, all the more horrible is that it’s over nine minutes. Nine minutes. I don’t need to see what happened prior to those nine minutes. Even if Mr. Floyd was guilty of a crime, that crime wasn’t a capital offense.
I have friends who have concluded, “This is a bad cop issue. He was a bad apple. We need to get rid of the bad apples.” I understand that on a certain level. I know a lot of really good law enforcement personnel. They aren’t like that cop in Minneapolis. Still I am glad that Southwest Airlines doesn’t take the same approach to their pilots. A few “bad apple pilots” would lead to plane crashes every now and then and none of us would ever fly Southwest Airlines.
I have other friends who have sons just like me. They are good boys, just like mine. But they have had to have conversations that I never had to have with my boys. I never told my boys to be on their best behavior if pulled over by a police officer (of course, I would hope they were always be on their best behavior). I never had to tell them to be careful where they run, how they wear their clothes, or what they say. But my friends have had those conversations just because they have black skin and not white skin. It breaks my heart.
It used to be that the clergy were the moral leaders shouting against injustices in the world. This week, I’ve read statements denouncing racism and the events following George Floyd’s death from sporting figures, school districts, politicians, Hollywood—you name it. Too few are from the church. Where is the church? Where are the Christians who read “what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8) and then act upon those words?
So what should this old (and getting older) white Nazarene preacher do?
Here’s what I have concluded: From time to time in funerals I will quote Solomon from Ecclesiastes 3, you know the passage, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal… (Ecclesiastes 3:1-3) Later in that same passage Solomon writes, “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:7). It’s time to speak.
Racism is the elephant in living room. When we see it, we need to denounce it. It has no place in holiness. We need to work for justice. We need to have difficult conversations. We need to listen. We need to repent when we’ve been silent. We need to pray and keep praying that God’s will would be done and His kingdom come in Flint (on the earth). In case you have forgotten, John describes heaven this way: I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10).
Let’s pray, fast and demonstrate for God’s kingdom to come to earth when God’s people (no matter their color, nationality, or language) will stand together as one body proclaiming the glory of the Lamb.
Lord, let that happen! Amen. Come Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20).