Since the murder of George Floyd, American cities have experienced paroxysms of protests and riots. To date, three separate protests have happened where I live, which is saying something for our small town. Thankfully, they remained peaceful; some of our police participated, exchanged fist-bumps with protesters, and walked along to show support. Along with real world activism, the internet is roiling with pressure to speak up and take sides.
Black lives matter. As people made in God’s image, they matter a lot. At the same time, Americans ignore the life that matters most: Christ’s life.
Each of us is the center of our universe. Each self is an interplay of race, region, sex, family background, personality, culture, and many other things. Each of us identifies with what we are above all else. This causes profound division.
Jesus said we must reject all that we are if we want to follow Him (Luke 14:26-27). Scripture says when we come to Jesus, we are folded into His death on the cross (Rom. 6:6). In Him, we die (2 Cor. 5:14). Ephesians 2:14-16 say Christ’s death on the cross ended the hostility caused by identity categories like ethnicity.
Spiritually, we participate in Christ’s resurrection. Christ becomes our life. More and more, who we are is oriented around Jesus. Things like race, region, sex, family, personality, culture, and the rest define us less. This shift is a lifelong process the Holy Spirit leads us through. Colossians 3:11 shows the fullness of this process: “In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.” We could fairly add black and white into this list. In Christ is no black or white, but Christ is all and in all.
Americans desire racial equity but we’ve turned our backs on Christ, the only one who can be equity within. Many, including Christians, look to socio-political action before they look to Christ (if they look to Christ at all). Socio-political action is necessary at times. But at the end of the day, there is no socio-political solution to the human condition. Racial equity and social action may result from Christian faith. But those things are not our faith. Our faith is in Christ and Him crucified.
Some may think what I’m saying is out of touch, offering no solutions. But I am, in fact, offering the only real solution—Christ’s life transforming our hearts and thinking. Seeing Christ crucified as a non-solution or as half a solution suggests we are out of touch with our faith.
Jesus knows more than anyone what it is to suffer at the hands of a prejudicial, unjust system. It is the same system that led to George Floyd’s death—the human system we have shut God out of. That system’s leaders hung Jesus on a cross, where he suffocated over a period of hours as crowds looked on. So, yes, I will say His name—Jesus. I pray we will stand with Jesus, together, instead of standing with ourselves against each other.