We are going through a hard time as a country. There is no doubt about that. The death of George Floyd was horrifying. What has happened since his death all around the country, including right here in Dallas-Fort Worth, is unsettling. Protests in dozens of major cities all over the country, including riots and looting and violence and police force and the national guard. All of it, if you’re like me, is a lot to process.
In some ways, as a pastor, I want to encourage you not to be glued to your televisions or social media. In other ways, we don’t need to bury our heads in the sand and pretend like this isn’t something we need to be talking about.
I know many of you watching this may struggle with giving any credence to protests that turn violent, even if the violence is a small minority of those protesting. It’s hard not to let that be main thing that gets our blood boiling, knowing that law enforcement are being treated badly while trying to do their jobs.
I would hope we would pray for looting to stop. And rioting to stop. That those protesting and those trying to keep the peace would be safe. I’m certainly praying for that.
But my one encouragement to those of you watching this, especially if you’re part of the church that I pastor, my encouragement comes from James 1:19: “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” And before you jump to other people that you wish would hear that verse—before you do that, examine your own heart. Your own life, your own actions.
I’m still processing everything happening, and I have to be honest: In the last week, I’ve been faced with my own blind spots. And I’m still trying to pray through those, and asking the Lord to show me areas where I may be unaware of the suffering and mistreatment of human beings made in the image of God, particularly the African American community.
My encouragement for you, and this goes for me too— At a very minimum, if you are a follower of Jesus, at a minimum—we must be open to the idea that we have blind spots. We must be humble enough to realize we are not omniscient. We don’t know all things. We don’t know all of the experiences of other people. We don’t. Particularly, if you’re watching this, and you’re not part of the African American community, and especially if you’re far removed from African American community for whatever reason: be open to the idea that you may not know what our African American brothers and sisters have experienced in the past and in the present.
Does that mean we have to be ok with everything happening, and violence and rioting. No. But, again, at a minimum, we must try and empathize. We cannot just dismiss this public outcry just because we deem some of the way that it’s happening to be inappropriate. Be humble enough to know that only God knows the experiences of 7 billion people on the planet.
I’m still processing, I’m sure most of us will be for some time. At least I hope you’re processing and not just totally dismissing the concerns of human beings made in the image of God. Please remember: Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry. I’m praying for increased discernment for everyone in our nation: increased awareness of what’s going on. I’m praying ultimately, that the Gospel itself would humble us enough to listen before we speak. To listen instead of ignore.