By Mark Dance
Can I be honest and admit that I’m never sure what to say or do when cultural chaos ensues? I don’t typically shake my fist or point my finger at every news update, but when sinful, systemic racism and/or injustice takes center stage, men and women of God need to speak up and reach out, even when we’re not sure what to say or do.
When any injustice takes place, we need to be good and angry. Several inexcusable racial injustices have taken place in recent weeks against black people, and my black friends don’t exactly know what to say or do either.
I certainly don’t have all of the answers, but I do have a couple of ways pastors can be salt and light in these dark days.
1. Reach out
I want to briefly elaborate on a post that I shared recently on Facebook and Twitter:
“I have no simple solutions for the racial injustice and hatred that plagues our nation. God’s solution to Peter’s racism was sharing a meal and baptisms w/ the family of a Roman soldier in his home (Acts 10). Soon afterwards he stood up for Gentiles in the public square (Acts 11).”
My point was that interracial friendships are clearly a priority to God, and should also be to us. When Peter walked into that centurion’s house and spent the night, he broke down a racial and cultural barrier that would be difficult to overstate.
In the next chapter Peter was forced to defend his actions. And when he took a stand for Gentiles, all heaven broke loose and the kingdom expanded.
Social and racial justice for people of color is more than a court issue; it’s also a church issue and a gospel issue, which makes it a pastor issue. For me, it’s also a friend issue.
Our best friends in Nashville are black, and we miss them terribly since we moved to Tulsa in January. Nobody has been in our home—or our lives—more than them in the last five years.
When is the last time you shared your home, a meal, or a pew with someone who doesn’t look like you?
2. Speak up
Although I got several “likes” from my white friends on that little post, I got mostly crickets from a normally chatty tribe. By contrast, this response is from one of my black pastor friends:
“How we need that today—someone other than us to stand up for us! Good word bro.”
Racism and injustice should make us sick enough to talk about on Sunday mornings, as well as between Sundays. The gospel is always good news, but it seems to shine brighter in contrast to bad news.
I don’t remember a spring that packed more bad news than this one. The gospel is still good news of great joy for all people. Jesus is the only real solution to all of our sin problems—including racism.
When I’m not sure what to say, I usually don’t say anything, which normally is a good thing. For a white pastor like myself to say or do nothing in light of recent events seems lame at best, and sinful at worst.
Although sometimes our silence is ministry malpractice—angry tweets, posts, and sermons are hardly helpful.
Speak the truth in love or simply shut up.
If God has arrested you for the sin of apathy, silence, or even prejudice, don’t wallow in that sin—repent of it. Turn away from that sin to Jesus for forgiveness.
Then, turn to your neighbors and invite them over for dinner.
MARK DANCE (@markdance) speaks at churches, conferences, and retreats—often with his wife Janet. Mark has contributed to several books and offers weekly encouragement at MarkDance.net. He’s currently serving as director of pastoral development for the Oklahoma Baptist Convention.