What can we learn about race from other voices? Many generations ago the Jewish King Hezekiah was in the midst of a successful reign when he was threatened with invasion by King Sennacherib of Assyria. Sennacherib used lies, deceit and fearful threats to try and get the people to surrender. Hezekiah countered every attempt. He told his people, “With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles. And the people took confidence . . .” (2 Chronicles 32:8)
This makes me think of the deception that is happening in our country over racial tensions, causing entire cities, businesses and even churches to fall on their knees in surrender. For this is not a political, racial or justice issue; this is a battle between good and evil, and we must look to the Lord God to be our help and save our nation.
As I followed the news and watched the George Floyd protests turn to riots in city after city, I was seeing the same story lines, the same narratives across most media outlets, including Christian ones. I thought to myself, “Do all African Americans agree with what they are saying?” As I began seeking out differing points of view within the black community, I found articulate African American public figures that stated their cases with indisputable facts and great persuasion. They built cases against the story lines that America has a racism problem, that white police officers killing unarmed young black men is the greatest threat to their community, that white privilege is real and that institutional and systemic racism exist. Before listening, there were many premises I accepted, along with millions of others in our country, and they logically dismantled them, one after another. I learned how many were influenced by respected black historical figures like Fredrick Douglas and Booker T. Washington. I also came across regular black grandmas, grandpas, moms and dads and even young people, that wept instead of protesting over the destruction of their communities. Some even shouted, “You did this! Not the police, but you!” And they were looking through their tears at fellow African Americans. After I had listened to enough, I shouted aloud to myself, “Where are their voices?” I was absolutely incensed that only one side of the black community seems to be heard in national conversations on race.
It is easy to receive the impression that all African Americans stand together on issues surrounding race. It is also easy to receive the impression that one black voice speaks for all the others. Not so! The Black Lives Matter organization does not speak, nor stand for the values of the entire black community. Nor does Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, along with leading professional black athletes, musicians, actors and politicians. These have bigger platforms, budgets and organizations. They make more noise and get more attention. But even so, there are people within the black community that think differently and should be listened to. I encourage my fellow white evangelical preachers and leaders to listen and learn from them in helping to shape their thinking and preaching on race.
It is written, “. . . evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). Deception is taking place across America on the issue of race and it is causing division and lawlessness which is turning our cities into war zones. What is the answer? Truth. Deception can be exposed through inviting truth to the table. What is truth? Jesus and His Word. He is the Truth. Jesus exposed the sin of deception in religious leaders of His day and paid the ultimate price for it. They conspired to kill Him, and when He died and was buried, they cheered thinking His voice was gone for good . . . but three days later He was back! He defeated the violence they plotted against Him, and rose from the dead making fools of them all! His voice then became multiplied thousands of times all over the world through His followers.
A prayer for you – “Lord God, I pray against the sin of deception that is blanketing our nation. Open the eyes of people to see the truth. Come against those planning disruptions and organizing chaos. Expose them. Give courage, open doors and platforms for voices of truth to speak no matter the cost. And let the church be a place of bold truth, wrapped in good works and sacrificial love in the midst of this upheaval. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”