by David Browder
By the world’s standards, the Christian Church did not have glorious beginnings. There were no great battles, no soaring victories. It had no figures like Alexander the Great, Napoleon, or Hannibal. It began with an itinerant teacher unjustly crucified for treason (Gal. 3:13). It taught that the way to life was through death (John 3:3-5). It taught that human power, human wisdom, and human leverage impeded the good rather than building it up. (1 Cor. 1:18-20).
Early in its history, the people who adhered to the beliefs of the Christian Church risked their lives by going into the homes of people whom the Roman system viewed as non-persons and by ministering to them during times of plagues and sickness. Often, the Christians contracted sickness from the people to whom they ministered and then died, giving their lives for those they barely knew. In doing so, they communicated to the unvalued that, in fact, the Triune God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — saw them as eternally valuable and called each of them by name. In response to this (along with the heralding of the forgiveness of sin by the Son of God crucified) the Christian Faith exploded and changed the world.
Fast forward two millennia to 2020. Three months ago, Ahmaud Arbery was chased down and shot by a mob in Georgia. Just one week ago, George Floyd, a native of Houston, died with a police officer’s knee on his neck — even after he told them he could not breathe. Both of these men were black. We are now seeing protests, demonstrations, and even rioting in the streets in response.
All of my life, I have been told by black friends, acquaintances, and colleagues about the discrimination they have both felt and experienced. I have heard them speak of their frustration, anger, fear, and sadness over this state of affairs. I did not just hear this from one of those friends: I heard it from every single one. I honestly believe this never sank in for me. It was on the periphery of my thoughts — an idea, not a flesh and blood reality.
It appears now that this long period of frustration, anger, fear, and sadness is boiling over.
I think I am now finally beginning to hear.
The life of the Christian is the life of repentance. It is the life of a redeemed person who understands that there are oceans and continents within a person that are not in alignment with the Word of God — oceans and continents within the self that stand under the judgment of God. As the Holy Spirit shines its light across these oceans and continents, the only response in light of the Son of God who died on a cross for that sin is repentance and faith. That repentance and faith manifests itself in love for one’s neighbor, especially for our suffering neighbors.
While all of this continues to unfold, I am going to listen.
And as I listen, I am going to be taking a long, hard look at the man in the mirror.