If I was a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement, and I actually cared about peace, I’d start thinking seriously about a name change. We wouldn’t be able to go with All Lives Matter because we’ve already been informed that such a name is racist. And we couldn’t use Life Matters because it might offend the folks over at Planned Parenthood. I’ll keep thinking about a new name and get back to you.
There comes a time when every movement finds itself at a crossroads. For Black Lives Matter, the options are many at this point.
a.) They can carry on with their mission and persevere through times of trouble, danger and even obscurity.
b.) They can sell themselves out to the very people who are a part of the initial problem.
c.) They can allow the troublemakers to take over.
The people at Black Lives Matter have chosen options b and c. That’s why you see people burning down cities in the name of justice. And it’s why you see members of the Black Lives Matters movement delighting in the execution of a Texas police officer.
I know that there are bad police. Just like there are bad pastors, bloggers, teachers and lawyers. History has shown us that it’s best to address such injustices on a case by case basis. Many in the Black Lives Matter movement have decided that it would be better to just blow up the whole system.
This is a critical time for the Church. Thankfully, we’ve been here before and managed quite well.
It was shortly after Jesus had risen from the grave. More and more people were deciding to live their lives for Jesus. Thousands, to be exact. And the 12 men who had spent the previous three years following Jesus had quite a challenge. With no Internet, phones, or automobiles, how were they supposed to take care of everyone? How were they supposed to make sure that everyone was fed?
The short answer is this. They didn’t. And their neglect looked like racism.
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. Acts 6:1 (ESV)
The Aramaic-speaking Jewish widows were being fed but the Greek-speaking ones were not. What gives? And there you have your first legitimate church fight.
The 12 men leading the church chose to address the problem. Their decision, under God’s plan of course, is a big reason why the Church is still around today. They didn’t blow anything up. They didn’t assassinate anyone.
No, to fix this problem, they started acting like the Church.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect unbelievers to act like the Church. There will always be unbelievers burning things down and saying stupid stuff. The problem comes in when the Church starts falling in line with that. We would do well to follow the early church’s countercultural approach.
My fear is that we won’t. I’m afraid that he constant news coverage of another execution, another crowd blocking traffic or interrupting brunch and another group of marchers spewing hate in the name of justice will cause the Church to retreat.
Christian, if you care anything about God and his gospel, you cannot let this happen. At least not in your church. Pastors and church leaders, before you punt the football and focus all of your energies on budget meetings, you need to consider the example of the early church’s response to a racial dispute.
You need to know your Bible and teach it.
And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.” Acts 6:2 (ESV)
For some reason, a lot of Christians who care about doing good in the community do so at the expense of the Bible. It’s as if they believe that you can’t do both. You can. In fact, you can’t do just one. A cup of soup for the belly and a jar of air for the soul is not what the world needs. The early church knew this. In their effort to meet physical needs and heal racial wounds, they did not neglect the teaching of the word.
But it doesn’t stop with the Bible. You need to serve too.
Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. Acts 6:3 (ESV)
The church selected seven men who would oversee the serving of others. But these weren’t just any men. These were men who were wise, filled with the Holy Spirit and who apparently cared about people. Even in the face of a major and potentially lethal dispute, the early church did not forget its mission. What about your church? Is your church more concerned with the numbers on the budget sheet than the pain down the street? Your new building, while important, is not likely to change your community. Your presence in the schools and over at the Housing Authority will.
So Christian, do not retreat. Do not hand over your responsibility of promoting peace (Matthew 5:9) to those who want the exact opposite. Keep doing the backyard Bible clubs. Don’t stop the bus ministry. If you’re not doing anything, start. Sitting in front of the television and worrying about when the race war is going to start is not your mission. Loving in the name of Jesus is. Get to work.
Finally, the early church prayed.
“But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:4 (ESV)
Anyone can complain. Anyone can worry. But true followers of Jesus Christ will pray. And when true followers of Jesus Christ pray, things happen (Romans 8:26; James 5:13-16).
Pray for peace in your community.
Pray for your local law enforcement leaders to do their job in full submission to the authority of Jesus Christ.
Pray that God would raise up people in your church, on the police force and in city hall who are, “full of the Spirit and of wisdom.”
Pray for the kind of racial peace that only Jesus can bring.
Forget what I said about changing the name of Black Lives Matter. If I was in that group and I really wanted change, I think that I’d let them keep their name. I’d let them keep their name and I’d leave to join another group.
One that actually cares about peace.
One that has a track record of reconciliation.
I’m happy to already be a part of that group.
It’s called the Church.