If you’re saying, “Ok. I understand that Black lives matter. I see that there is a history of racial oppression in the USA. I accept that the protesters have an important message. But, where do I go from here?”
You need Mike Kelsey’s voice in your life! Mike has been foundational in my early, anti-racism journey. He has a wildly awesome vision for the Kingdom of God, pastoring in the DC area at McLean Bible Church. His interview with Jennie Allen on her Made For This podcast provides incredible insight into what many of us are asking after being racially awakened: “Where do we go from here?” Let’s dive into what he says. (all quotations are taken directly from the interview)
1. Where do we go from here? We acknowledge the depth of Black hurt.
I used to be a White person that refused to acknowledge Black hurt, and I know I am not alone. Mike drives home this point: Blacks in America have been hurting for a long time and, as long as that hurt is minimized, real work can’t start. Jennie, the podcast host, also adds,
“What I want people to hear is that it’s likely impossible, if you are White to understand how long and how many days and how often it is hard to be a person of color in this country.”
We have to acknowledge this hurt and stop demanding that the Black community prove that their hurt is justified. We have to engage our hearts with theirs.
2. Where do we go from here? We don’t prematurely call for peace.
This point really floored me. And Mike introduces it through this verse:
“They dressed the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace they cry when there is no peace.’”
Wow. There’s two parts to this verse that have huge implications. One- “They dressed the wound of my people as though it were not serious.” This applies to what we just talked about: there is a White tendency to minimize black hurt that must be let go of. Because wounds should be taken seriously. They are wounds, after all.
The next part of the verse carries an implication that was brand new to me:
“Peace, peace they cry when there is no peace.”
This verse is set at a time when God was angry because there were prophets trying to preach peace in the midst of unjust chaos.
Have you heard people calling for peace amidst the protests raging across our nation? The solution to the protests is peace, right?
“We have to hold justice and peace in tension.” Mike says. Peace is the goal, but justice is the means to that goal.
In other words, peace is the outcome, not the solution. Justice is that solution, “you cannot get to peace without working for justice” (Mike Kelsey).
If that gives you pause, consider how he explains the Christian view of salvation:
“We have peace only to the extent that the justice demanded by God for our sin is satisfied in Christ.”
When we accept the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins, we are justified and brought into a right relationship with God. That justice leads to our peace.
And the same truth is at work in the protests. Protestors are angry and upset because of injustice in policing, in human rights, in the prison system, etc. When we look at their anger and declare, “Oh. They just need peace,” we are missing a huge part of God’s heart and trajectory. Peace follows justice.
So we are to fight injustice with the goal of peace. We preach the gospel to restless hearts to bring them the peace of God.
We can’t prematurely call for peace; it’s not the full picture.
I don’t know about you, but that is something I’d never thought about before! And I haven’t stopped thinking about it since hearing Mike speak.
3. Where do we go from here? We get over our shame.
The “we” in this statement refers to White people. Mike talks about how White shame can block progress if we don’t press through it. It’s easy to look at the horrors of history and shrink back from action in the present. But instead we need to be moving forward, asking, “God, how do you want me to do justice? Love mercy? Walk humbly?” Shame paralyzes but determination to do right moves us forward. And God is calling us forward!
4. Where do we go from here? We embrace the cost.
This is the last and most practically challenging point. Living for justice is going to come at a cost. And we have to embrace the reality of that cost if we are serious about being people engaged in God’s calling. Where does that cost come into play? Mike gives some examples:
–Put in the time and work to (re)learn history: face the atrocities, listen to African American and indigenous voices, look at policies more than dates and names.
– Seek interracial friendships and ask good questions. Do not put the burden of your racial education on your friends of color, but also don’t be afraid to ask them honest questions and accept their heartfelt answers.
–Ask some very tough questions when you consider where to send your kids to school or where to buy your next house. How can these choices be part of engaging in the Kingdom of God not just our own comfort? (this one is seriously hard).
But, in all of this difficulty, there absolutely is hope. We know that God is going to make himself known to the nations. We know that someday he will right every wrong. And we know that there is a reason he calls us to engage in difficult work along the way: it shapes our hearts after his and shows the world a picture of their good, loving, and just Creator.
Can we be people like that?
You can find the podcast referenced in this post here.
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