Evaluating the Response of Our Hearts to Racial Injustice
Injustice is the violation of the right or rights of another (Merriam Webster’s Dictionary). The deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery sparked protests against gun and police violence against the African American community. The cries against injustice have been many and vocal across America. Many Christians remain divided as to when and how to stand regarding the issue of racial injustice. The Bible speaks clearly about how to respond to injustice, intolerance, and favoritism.
God's Word on Injustice
Jeremiah 22:3-5 ESV Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you will indeed obey this word, then there shall enter the gates of this house kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their servants and their people. But if you will not obey these words, I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation.
Micah 6:8 ESV He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Proverbs 29:27 ESV An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.
Proverbs 31:8-9 ESV Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Isaiah 1:17 ESV Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.
Isaiah 26:10 ESV If favor is shown to the wicked, he does not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he deals corruptly and does not see the majesty of the Lord.
Lamentations 3:34-36 ESV To crush underfoot all the prisoners of the earth, to deny a man justice in the presence of the Most High, to subvert a man in his lawsuit, the Lord does not approve.
James 2:9 ESV But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
While these are just a few of the verses in Scripture that speak to God’s heart for justice, what we see in each of these scriptures is an intolerance for violating another human being. Systems of injustice are complex, and many of us who are unaffected by the problems that harm others need to learn and to listen in order to understand, but at the same time realize that listening must lead to action.
I have spent the last several weeks studying the words of Mother Teresa. Throughout her life, she loved and ministered to those overlooked by society. Yet, in every soul she met, she saw the face of God. Mother Teresa once said, “I must be willing to give whatever it takes to do good to others. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no true love in me, and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.”
Is this not what Jesus did? He confronted injustice with acts of love, responding to the image of God he saw in people. When Jesus saw the money changers and animal sellers abusing the poor in the outer courts of the Temple, not only did He drive them away, but He then healed the blind and lame.
When we see the current events on the news, what drives our emotions? If we feel nothing for our neighbors who suffer, then why are our hearts unstirred?
Jesus was angry in the temple courts because of His love for God and His people. Jesus responded to the unrighteousness and injustice of using the place where all people could gather to meet with God for the purpose of exploiting the sojourner and the poor.
Perhaps you might still have questions about where you stand on the topic of injustice. Below are some questions to help you reflect on the subject.
1. What are my current feelings towards those who have less than me?
2. Are there any excuses that I make for any of my feelings?
3. How would Christ look at the situations in the world today?
6 Questions to Evaluate My Response to Injustice
As you reflect on both the larger topic of injustice and the racial inequality we face as nation, here are some questions to help you navigate your personal response:
1. Have I been a voice for those who have had no voice?
2. Have I sought to correct oppression?
3. Are my words promoting peace for those who have no peace?
4. If I stay silent, will another suffer?
5. What is a practical step I can take to show love in action?
6. Do my words build up or tear down?
4 Practical Ways to Build a Bridge for Racial Reconciliation
The subject of racial inequality is difficult to talk about. But it is necessary to have hard conversations within our homes, the Church, and our communities. Should these conversations be uncomfortable? Yes. When we stretch and challenge ourselves, we grow. Here are a few practical ways for us to build bridges for racial reconciliation.
- Pray for wisdom. The Spirit gives us wisdom of speech. Ask God to give you the words to say to your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. God is faithful in answering our prayers.
- When discussing injustice, ask open-ended questions. The goal in bridge-building is to keep the conversation going. When we know each other’s stories, we begin to appreciate the other side. We grow in empathy, which is vital to loving our neighbors. Try to overcome stereotypes by building relationships with those you disagree with.
- Find common ground. God has created us all in His image for the glory of His name. He has a plan and purpose for each of our lives. Even if you see someone as different than you, remember that God designed you each as His special creation.
- Respond in love. First John discusses the importance of loving one another (1 John 4:7-12). We are to love each other because God loved us first. He showed His love through His Son. Jesus proved His love for us by suffering the ultimate injustice for our sake. Our response is that we should sacrificially love each other. This includes loving those who do not love us in return. It means loving those who disagree with us. It also means loving those when they appear to be unlovable. Remember, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. If we respond to an angry world with love, they will see the light of Christ.
Cortney Whiting is a wife and mother of two wonderfully energetic children. She received her Masters of Theology Degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. After serving in the church for nearly 15 years, Cortney currently serves as a lay-leader and writes for various Christian ministries. You can find her at her blog, Unveiled Graces.