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What the church can — and does — do to lead on racial justice

American remains in anguish over the murder of George Floyd, and just days before we were talking about Ahmaud Arbery of my home State of Georgia. These are the most recent individuals on our mind; but the list goes on and on. These are only two among many other unjust and inhumane crimes that continue to have a disproportionate effect on African Americans and leave a wretched stain on the social fabric of our country. 

Jentezen Franklin
Pastor Jentezen Franklin's new book "Love Like You've Never Been Hurt" addresses forgiveness and healing from a broken heart. |

As the country is erupting in protest we must ask ourselves what it is that we must do to stem the plague of systematic racism in America.

We cannot control the actions of others and we can’t change the heart of man with a flip of a switch, but we can control how we as a church react and how we work to change the hearts of those around us. The church must continue to speak clearly, especially the majority-white church.

The good news is that a concerted voice is actually rising even if that voice is being drowned out by those exploiting the peaceful protests for other ends. Scores of pastors and faith leaders — left, right and center — have been the first to demand justice! 

And there are plenty of reasons why.

The prophet Malachi writes, “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?” (Malachi 2:10)

Read those questions, again: “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?”   

We are of one body and one blood. We are all God’s children, and as Scripture tells us, “If one member of the body suffers, we all suffer.” That police officer in Minnesota didn’t just kill George Floyd; he killed my brother, and your brother. As we also read in Scripture, “We weep with those who weep; we mourn with those who mourn.” 

Yes, it’s time for outrage. It’s also time to find a way forward. 

Here are just a handful of decisions you can make:

1) Teach your children that all people are made in God’s image. The sooner in a child’s life we instill the powerful and revolutionary truth that every human is made in the image of God, the more likely we are to shape their minds in a mold of love for decades to come. 

In Genesis 1:26-27 we read, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness… God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

This demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that racism is completely incompatible with the Christian faith.

2) Spend some time, and build genuine friendships, with those who are in the struggle and with those who are different than you.

One of the highlights of Sunday morning, for me, has always been standing on the stage at Free Chapel, looking out across the congregation and seeing one, unified church — a diverse group of African-American, Hispanic, white, young and old, rich and poor, all worshiping the same God. 

It’s a beautiful picture of heaven. But it can be a beautiful picture of earth too if we help replicate this model elsewhere, beginning with each of our individual families.

Take some time getting to know those who have a different background, a different life story than you do. We each have unique hardships we’ve overcome, and those shared experiences make a space for us to love one another.

3) Be an advocate for those who have experienced injustice. Remind your friends and neighbors in these situations that they are not alone. Be the first in line to stand by their side when they are the victim of the sin of racism.

I’m reminded of Proverbs 31:8, and I love the way the New Living Translation says it: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.” 

In other words, silence is not an option.

4) Look inside your own heart, and ask God to uproot any, even subtle forms of racism that may have taken root in your life. 

Sometimes it’s our upbringing, perhaps it’s a moment that left you jaded — either way, we’re all capable of holding some form of bigotry hidden in our hearts. The important thing is to nip it in the bud. Don’t let that weed grow wild. I believe the situations in Georgia and Minnesota recently are the direct result of a long and dangerous path in the wrong direction. Injustice doesn’t happen by accident. 

I love the advice of the Psalmist, “Search me, oh God, and know my heart!”

We used to sing a song when my children were young called “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” Maybe you sang it too? 

The best line in that song was, “Red, and yellow, black, and white, they are precious in his sight.” Perhaps somewhere along the way we stopped teaching our children this song. Well, we oughta start singing it again, young and old — all of us. 

We can find our way, but it won’t happen by accident. It starts at home.

Pastor Jentezen Franklin is the Senior Pastor of Free Chapel, a multi campus church. Each week his television program Kingdom Connection is broadcast on major networks all over the world. A New York Times best-selling author, Jentezen has written ten books including his most recent Acres of Diamonds, along with Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt, Fasting, and Right People-Right Place-Right Plan .

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