“Woe to you, Pharisees! For you . . . neglect justice and the love of God” (Luke 11:42).
The Pharisees, who knew and followed God’s Word closely, neglected justice and the love of God. Is it possible that you and I are today’s Pharisees? Absolutely.
If you’re white, you’re may roll your eyes at what I’m going to say. You may be tired of hearing about injustice and mistreatment of Blacks. You’d prefer to turn off all media that covers the subject and just enjoy the coming 4th of July holiday. But please hear me out.
As we celebrate the founding of our country and its freedoms, our Black brothers and sisters are waiting for the promises of equality and justice that our country was founded on to be lived out in their lives. They’re tired, too, but they don’t have the luxury of stopping up their ears as we do. That’s what privilege looks like.
To love them well, Jesus says that we enter into their pain and stand for justice.
Several years ago I was shocked to hear middle class, educated Black Christian friends share what America looks like from their perspective—stories of police stopping their or their sons’s cars without cause over and over; explanations of why they can’t allow their sons to participate with their white friends in rolling a yard in their neighborhood; the fear of pulling into a driveway in a white neighborhood when they needed to turn their cars around. I realized that I had shut my eyes and ears.
Right now we’re seeing the reason for those fears. It’s impossible to miss it unless we deliberately choose to shut our eyes and ears. For too long our Black brothers and sisters have cried out about injustices, but I and many of you have chosen to believe they were culpable somehow. In our minds if they didn’t commit an actual crime, they were guilty for not being cooperative with the police, for having done something wrong previously, or for having scared the cops or the white people who called the cops. Why do we assume those things? Because we’ve never experienced anything else as white. people. I’m guilty of having misjudged such situations because I was listening only to my echo chamber—white friends who were as uninformed and ignorant as I was. We all assumed that we weren’t treated similarly because of our goodness, innocence and polite cooperation.
I don’t believe all police are guilty of injustice, lying, or racism at all. But the police who aren’t guilty themselves often protect each other’s backs to the point that the bad ones haven’t been justly punished for actions that were out of line—and not just racially. And the systems have supported that. Consider why it took months before Ahmaud Arbery’s killers were arrested—they were connected to power in the justice system and given a pass.
The word for justice is related to the word for righteousness in the Bible. If we want to be righteous people, we must support and do justice. It’s inherent in the character of Christ. When he lives in us, it’s his life we live, not our own (Galatians 2:20).
It’s time for white Christians to work toward justice for all, so that our country lives up to our founding principles