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A Response to the Death of George Floyd in Minneapolis

In the midst of Covid-19, we’ve been rocked—once again!—with the news that an unarmed black American man has died needlessly in the streets as a police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Our emotions run high. Angry. Embarrassed. Depressed. 

How can this type of injustice still be happening to our brothers and sisters?

There is deeply rooted racism. It makes God angry. It makes us angry too.

There are myriads of godly women and men in the PLI family and well beyond it that show up in difficult ministries every day to serve and represent the name of Jesus in urban America. They are difference makers. They are seeing lives changed. They have stories to tell that will encourage you and renew your hope. (You’ll get a better glimpse from two of them this Friday, June 5, on PLI’s Facebook Live Morning Prayers at 11 AM CDT. Follow us on Facebook and visit our page at 11 AM.)

And, if you’re in one of those difficult ministries? Let me guess! You often feel forgotten. Oftentimes feel underappreciated. Measured by someone’s scorecard that whispers that you’re not measuring up. Thank you for investing in a different future than the one that rushes across television screens these days.

All of us—me, at least—have much for which to repent.

  • Sins of commission. Actions. Behaviors. Words. Postures.
  • Sins of omission. Would haves. Should haves. Could haves. 
  • Arrogance! Things like this—pandemics included—are reserved for other countries. 
  • Choices made as consumers seeking comfort, not followers of Christ shaped by compassion or calling. 

To do less is to risk hypocrisy!

And then we must listen! And learn!

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

James 1:19

It’s difficult in a week and in a world where everything is amplified.

Protests in the streets. Good law enforcement officers are increasingly placed in harm’s way. Professional rioters instigating destruction and looting. Livelihoods lost. Communities set back decades.

Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down and outers. Speak out for justice! Stand up for the poor and destitute!

Proverbs 31:8 (The Message)

And then we must speak! Not just for the unborn. But for those who can’t speak for themselves and be heard!

Our human fears are on full display in America today. Racism, bigotry, prejudice.

We have people in our churches and in our neighborhoods who have been rejected or belittled or abused because of who God has made them to be. It’s ours and the people we lead to stand in support of them.

Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:21

Now, here’s the challenge for you as a church leader. Once you’ve registered your voice, what do you do?

  • Covid-19 has left you weary and tired.
  • You’re not quite sure who you’re still leading.
  • What can you contribute to problems so deeply rooted and expansive?

For most of us, the next step is still small. On your way to wanting to change the world, it starts small.

I’d propose it starts in two places:

  1. Jesus identifies with injustice and oppression! Jesus stepped down from heaven and humbled himself to a death on the cross. Rigged trial. Hurled insults. A borrowed grave. We’re always at risk of making Jesus into our image. He came for people “nice enough” like “us.” Never remembering that we are equally desperate in our need of a Savior that reconciles us with God the Father.
  2. Jesus spoke to crowds. Confronted unjust puffery…but fundamentally he invested in 12 and discipled them. It’s incumbent upon us to recover the simple practice of relational discipleship that includes mission in a broken world. We are witnessing the result of the world having done a better job discipling people in its ways than we have in discipling people in the ways of Jesus. 

Jesus started with 12:

  • He invested a vision of a different Kingdom.
  • He spoke of peace and justice and reconciliation.
  • And through them, He changed the world.

Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Colossians 3:12 

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