My heart is grieving for the family of Ahmaud Arbery. 25-years old. Jogging down a street in a free country. Gunned down in broad daylight. I hear my brothers and sisters of color describing their fear and rage and confusion and sorrow. And exhaustion. Driving while black. Shopping while black. Jogging while black. Replaying the video felt more like a scene from Roots than a newsfeed in the middle of the 21st century. The street names have changed and horses have been traded out for pickup trucks, but for Ahmaud, that Georgia road was no safer in 2020 than it was in 1820.
I keep hearing the question, what does it mean to do justice? Here’s a start.
Read the Bible.“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” (Isaiah 1:17) We really need to expose our souls to the abundance of teaching in Scripture about justice. “The Bible is very easy to understand,” writes Soren Kierkegaard. “But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.”
Wrestle. Go watch the video footage online. Gather your children or friends or disciples and discuss what you see. What is his family feeling today? How long before things change? What would happen if we had no cell phone video evidence? What is Jesus saying right now? The image of God has been violated. The dignity of humanity has been trampled. The credibility of the church is at stake. May this not be another occasion where the silence of God’s people provides fuel for God’s enemies.
Listen. If you’ve never feared being killed simply on the basis of the color of your skin, now is a time to receive from those who have. Feel their pain. Acknowledge their trauma. Really listen. To follow Jesus is to walk humbly. I have been in rooms where I’ve heard people describe how tired they are of hearing about racism. Imagine how tired people must be of living it.
Lift your voice. And do it in the name of Jesus. Advocate for life. Sign the petition and then pick up your phone and call District Attorney, John Durden at 912-876-4151 to demand justice in this particular case.
Some people lift their voice because it’s their personality. Many lift their voice because it’s in their best interest to do so. Still others lift their voice because something is happening that highlights their special cause. But if you choose the way of Jesus, you lift your voice precisely because you follow Him. You don’t get to cherry pick your justice, because the King of the universe has already spoken. And whether you find out about injustice against an unarmed black man, a trafficked child, a vulnerable woman, or an unborn baby, you speak because Jesus is Lord. No one understands injustice better than the One who endured it on a cross. And no one has more authority than the One who rose from the dead. Stop trying to accomplish justice on earth without the power of heaven.
Pray. God, our land is sick, in need of the Physician. We have been hypocrites, and neglected the weightier matters of your Law. We have tolerated evil, we ask for your justice. We have been prisoners to the fear of man, now make us as bold as a lion. Our biases have blinded us, our privilege has numbed us, our sins have separated us. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
(You might want to add a prayer in the comments below.)