When Jesus launched his public ministry, he did so by quoting the words of Isaiah 61. Rather than talk about his greatness, he let everyone know who he came for:
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)
Make no mistake: you can not separate the Jesus you love and the Gospel you claim from the work of justice. God has always been on the side of the oppressed. And until you and I are as broken-hearted and moved to action over the oppressed as Jesus was, our Gospel will remain incomplete.
For more than a decade, I’ve used this space to write about faith and suffering. How can I not do the same now? My heart is heavy over all the racism and injustice that continues to suffocate our nation. Our brothers and sisters are suffering. Worse, it is a generations-old problem that we have minimized and ignored and shrugged off for too long. As a result, the racism wound has festered.
And I’ve realized, with great regret and lament: I am complicit. I have been blind, ignorant. And, as a result, I have neglected to actively care for the oppressed, those who have suffered as a result of racism.
Although I see hope of change, I’m grieved that it has taken me and too many others this long to see it for what it is: sin. Every human is the imago dei—made in the image of God. And when we disregard, defame, diminish, and dehumanize any of His own, we disregard, defame, diminish, and indignify HIM.
God, have mercy.
I’ll spare you any more of my words for the moment, as there are others whose voices and experiences need to be heard more than mine right now. But this you and I must accept:
Healing begins with humility. We must own our complicity, in whatever form, and confess it.
For those whose hearts remain tender to conviction, who are open to confession and growth, who desire to learn and understand and seek to love the way God himself loves, here are some resources that I have found helpful in my own journey of seeing and identifying my own role in racism and learning to become actively, unashamedly, courageously anti-racist:
- Isaiah 58
- Ephesians 2 & 3
- Galatians 6
- Matthew 23:23
- Micah 6:8
- Brownicity: Many Hues, One Humanity educational membership portal, by Lucretia Berry (I can’t recommend Lucretia or her courses highly enough. Practical, thoughtful, self-paced teaching to help you grow in your understanding and actively counteract racism, in yourself and your community)
- Woke Church, by Eric Mason
- Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation, by Latasha Morrison
- Just Mercy, by Bryan Stephenson (as well as the movie by the same name, which is currently streaming for free)
- 3-Part Blog Series on The Gospel & Race, by Dr. Timothy Keller
- Equal Justice Initiative (EJI.org)
- Race & Repair, a free 2-hour online event via QIdeas.org
There are so many intelligent, thoughtful, gospel-based resources available. This is only a fraction. But it’s a start. Please, please let us start. May we grow in compassion and confession and character and Christ-likeness together.