This was an actual question I read yesterday while scrolling down the myriad of disgruntled Facebook commentary on my timeline, amidst one of the coldest social climates in our nation’s history. It was a question that I, too have recently struggled with as I work to better understand my place in this darkening world. The responses to this post were filled with non-Christians who sarcastically answered things like “just love everybody and pray,” and while us Christians are instructed to do just that, in a time like the present where racial tension is again heightened, I realize that we are called to do much more.
I’m sure I am among many Christians who have withheld angered Facebook captions and tweets even though it is how I feel, for the sake of not becoming one of the hate mongers I disapprove of, myself. I’ve started and deleted many posts over the last year or so, frustrated by not knowing exactly how to fight...with love, and I realize I’ve fallen victim to the misconception that Christians aren’t supposed to get angry. Lies. I’d argue that the wrong isn’t in being mad, as scripture affirms that this is a thing, and people sometimes test your gangsta and invoke wrath, but the error is in anger-induced sin, the things we do or say as a result of that anger. The Bible straight up says, be mad, but don’t sin (Ephesians 4:26). That is indeed the tricky part. I’m thankful I serve a God that recognizes our humanness and understands that racism can make us mad, that oppression makes us mad, that injustice makes us mad. God’s word literally says, I get it, but don’t respond with more hatred. I can admit to my own reactions to the criticisms of black people protesting injustices being in turn hateful, and at times shaping how I feel about my white counterparts as a whole. Then I am reminded that when I do that, I am no better than white supremacists myself.
So then, how do we take that anger and extract good from it? That is what takes a little elbow grease; takes some action. Because while the Bible says to be angry and don’t sin, it does NOT say, be angry and do nothing.
The answer to the question of what role we as Christians should play in this race war was answered for me in Isaiah 1:17, in which we are so clearly called to ‘seek justice’ and ‘rebuke the oppressor,” as well as Psalms 31:8-9 “speak for the speechless...plead the cause for the poor and needy”. We are not to sit idly and watch as the world worsens. We’re not to remain quiet as authorities abuse their power and invoke harm on innocent people (who happen to be mostly black and brown). We are not to passively wait until the world ends and all of this is no longer our problem. It is precisely our problem now. This is a fallen world and sin manifests itself here in many ways. Sometimes it’s adultery, sometimes it’s murder, and sometimes it’s what we’re all witnessing now- pure hatred. Make no mistake, fighting against white supremacy and racism as a whole is fighting against sin and evil, and it’s not just the right thing to do, it’s our responsibility as Christians to do it.
We are to be the hands and mouth of God on earth. You decide what that looks like for you. Whether it’s boycotting the NFL, whether it’s not spending money with companies that support and invest in inequality and unjustness, whether it’s protesting in the streets, serving as an elected official or hopefully all of the above and more, this is how we make good of our anger.
There are many who make claims on the kind of person Jesus was, but if you’ve read, really read anything about Him, it should be evident that He has a major soft spot for the oppressed. The whoooooole idea of being a Christ follower is to actually follow in His footsteps and walk in the example He has laid before us. He was one of the OGs of speaking truth to power so we have no excuse in not knowing where to stand in this fight. The clear wrong side of this race war is in silence. In nothingness. In inaction. I echo Desmond Tutu’s famous sentiments, that “if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” And I’ll go further and state that if you are a proclaimed follower of Christ, the choice is made for you. Seek justice means go get it! To rebuke the oppressor, we have to speak up about what’s wrong and work to correct it. Speaking for those often silenced entails us ensuring justice on their behalf. So for me, the question isn’t what role do Christians play, it’s simply, are we playing the role we've signed up for?