The lead pastor of the Minnesota-based Crossroads Church called racism “the elephant in the living room in America right now.”
“There is a racial divide … and it breaks Jesus’ heart,” Pastor Phil Print said, adding that Jesus died “so that there’s no more of that.”
It should also break our hearts as followers of Jesus, the megachurch pastor said. “What happened to George Floyd happens far too frequently in our country. And it’s unacceptable. And we have to do better.
“There’s an unlevel playing field today when it comes to people of color. Discrimination, racial stereotyping, racial bias is alive.”
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died last Monday after his neck was pinned down by a white police officer in Minneapolis. Though Floyd repeatedly stated that he couldn't breathe, the officer, identified as Derek Chauvin, did not remove his knee until several minutes after Floyd stopped moving.
Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Pastors across the nation have spoken out against Floyd’s death. Southern Baptist leaders released a statement Saturday, grieving the “misuse of force” and “inequitable distributions of justice,” according to Baptist Press.
Stressing that all human beings “are sacred beings that God values and loves,” the Southern Baptists said Christians “cannot remain silent when our brothers and sisters, friends and/or people we seek to win for Christ are mistreated, abused or killed unnecessarily.”
Crossroads Church had prerecorded its Sunday online service, including the sermon, before Floyd’s death. Feeling prompted by God’s Spirit to speak out, the Minnesota church’s pastors decided to record a special video message on Saturday to help congregants respond to Floyd’s death and its aftermath.
Pastor Print acknowledged that as leaders and pastors who are white, he and his colleagues did not have the right to speak. “We have no idea what it’s like to be an African American pastor, leader, or person.”
The lead pastor then said, “We are so, so sorry … We grieve with you, and we do not look away.”
He shared 1 Corinthians 12:26, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
“We need to stop being ignorant. We need to stop being defensive. We need to stop being passive.”
What happened with Floyd was “evil,” he emphasized.
“What’s clearly evil is when we hate other people. What’s clearly evil is when there’s a senseless abuse. What’s clearly evil is violence and murder and racism.”
Print cited Romans 12:9, which reads, “… Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
He also denounced violence and rioting in response to Floyd’s death, saying it is not the only way for the community to be heard and noting that the Bible asks us to never pay back evil for evil.
Protests that erupted in Minneapolis and St. Paul spread to several other cities, including Memphis, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Detroit, New York City, and Washington, D.C., by the weekend. While many demonstrators remained peaceful, others resorted to violence, including looting businesses and burning cars and buildings.
Crossroads Executive Pastor of Campuses Erik Anderson shared that his daughter is of color. “The last few days have been hard,” he said, struggling to hold back tears. “She’s having to process things in a whole new way as a teenager.”
He said as his family was watching events unfolding on the news, his daughter turned to her mother and asked, “Is this what it’s going to be like for me? Would that happen to me? Would that be my reality?”
“I’ve never felt more ill-equipped as a dad to answer that question,” he admitted. He realized that he needed to do more work to seek to understand her.
Addressing all Christians, Anderson said, “We need to seek to understand more and more of our brothers and sisters of color and the realties they go through so that we can be part of the solution.
“It’s not our context. It’s not where we come from. But we got to get our hearts right. We got to get informed. We got to put people around us to help us be part of the solution when it comes to this tension and this issue.”
Agreeing, Print stated, “We need to understand and listen better … to see the world through the lens of someone of color.”
“We have to work for peace and justice,” Print said, adding that the key word here is “work.”
Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers, he continued. “It’s the hard, hard work of peacemaking.”
Anderson offered Christians a prayer of lament as many are unsure of what to pray for.
“Heavenly Father, my soul is heavy from what I’ve witnessed in our community, so give me the strength to pray. I lift my eyes to you for you are my mighty rock, fortress, and refuge. Help me, God. Please help us. We mourn the tragic loss of George Floyd. Your beloved child was senselessly taken.
“We grieve with his family, friends, his community, and all who loved him. Help us who are angry and sad not to let his death be in vain.
“God, we do not pray for vengeance, but we do thirst for justice, healing, and peace. We hope for healing between our neighbors and the officers called to protect and serve. We long for the day when families will not have to say ‘goodbye’ to their children too soon.
“My hope is in you. Father, come quickly to help us. Lord, come quickly to save us. Hear our cry.