Thursday, July 21, 2016

Some Things I’ve Learned Along the Way

Soon I’ll be seventy years old.  It’s hard to fathom this, since I still feel twenty-five.

When I was young, I lived for moments.  Today, I’m living for time. Langston Hughes has a poem that included the line, “life is short, but God is long.”  That’s how I feel these days.

My decades as a Christian activist have taught me valuable lessons.  I’ve had to learn a lot of these things the hard way, but I boiled a handful of “lessons” down to twelve common sense and overlapping principles of protest, some of which are adapted from my book Free At Last? — all of which are based on familiar biblical truths. 

They’ve served me well at different levels of cultural engagement, so I offer them as a reminder of our true focus, the gracious God who has ‘shown us what is good.’  I hope they can help us avoid the “syncretistic subculture” discussed in my last blog, and save us unnecessary tears and wasted years as we seek to ‘do what the Lord requires of us — namely “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with...God” (Micah 6:8).

Many of you in the field will already be familiar with these concepts, but there are also some men and women I’ve spoken with who are just wading into the waters of protest and prayer, even at this stage.  If you don’t find these principles helpful today, I hope they will be useful in the years to come.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, there will always be something in our immediate surroundings that will fall short of God’s plan for a just society.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Reflections on Black Lives

Last night, two young Black Christian leaders from our community came to visit us.  They joined a steady stream of young people who’ve come to our home in the last few years seeking answers.  One brother was primarily concerned about unjust policing in our city, the other with the high crime rate in his neighborhood.

Both of these issues have affected them and their friends deeply.  My two young brothers expressed their frustration with measures that often lack practical application, be they protest or prayer.  They were united by their larger concern over the lack of discipleship, the absence of applied biblical principles, and a prophetic void – all three, they sensed, were at the heart of their frustrations.  They expressed a profound sentiment: “‘Black Lives Matter’ won’t matter to us until all Black lives matter.” 

They also came with a question, “What do we do?”

Most folk acknowledge that there are at least two versions of “black lives matter.”  For the Christian, making some sort of distinction makes it possible to participate in the movement for Black lives without compromising fidelity to Scripture.  Not long ago, the two versions were distinct.  They’ve since become so intertwined that it’s worth revisiting how they’re framed and perceived, and how they might be evolving.