I feel ill equipped to address something like this. I’m a suburban bred kid who has only been educated in private institutions. I grew up in church and the “streets” was only somewhere I knew I wasn’t supposed to play; not because I might be hit by a bullet but by a soccer mom in her minivan. I’m now married and have four incredibly beautiful kids. A prominent fear in regards to my kids on a given day is hoping no one notices that we haven’t bathed them in a week.
So speaking towards the way my black brothers and sisters feel is not an area in which I have expertise. However, the more people I know closer to the fray, the more important they feel it is for me to be a voice in my context.
I don’t know much, but I know there are certain moments when I think about this more prominently than other moments. Moments like when I’m in the car rider line next to one of the only black fathers who send their kids to the predominately white school that my kid attends. What are his fears for his child? Not just fears for today, but fears for the years to come.
One of the frustrations in having this conversation at all(especially on social media) is that it automatically becomes about police brutality/all cops are dirty vs. “those rowdy BLM thugs”. Unfortunately, it goes directly to either extreme and there exists no civil dialogue.
In those moments when I allow the fear of how my peers may perceive me if I speak to this, I remember that the cross speaks loudly. The incarnation of Jesus speaks loudly. I believe the cross and the incarnation enable the people of God to speak and to do so for the good of God’s people and for the glory of God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth.
John 1:14 ESV
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish.
John 1:14 The Message
There aren’t many sections of the Bible that more simply (and extensively) communicate the claims of who Christ is, from his deity to his humanity, than John 1. I often think about what kind of neighborhood each of our experiences makes us think about. How has our Western experience shaped the kind of dwelling we think about when we think about Jesus becoming human? I think it probably looked a lot different than the default of our mind. Jesus didn’t hold back in his early days of ministry. In John 3-4, Jesus deals head on with a few of the culture’s major issues, including racism. He walks graciously with a Gentile woman through some of the most disturbing sins that we see in all of scripture. This act of Jesus proves His love for us just as much as the cross and the empty grave.
You know what is a game changer? In this exchange, Jesus is aware of all the “facts” about this woman’s life. Jesus stepped away from heaven and into our neighborhood for one purpose: to die(John 2:4). He died for a people who had the facts stacked hopelessly against them. He died at the hands of people and for a people whose sin was unhidden from Him. You see, there is no greater sin that we can commit than a sin against God. What we do in the secret places of our dwelling and in the dark places of our mind have great significance, not only because they impair our view of those around us, but because they are sins against Jesus(Psalm 51:4).
This is not a post in defense of any individual. This comes on the heels of Betty Shelby hearing a verdict of non-guilty in the charges of the death of Terence Crutcher, but is no effort to speak to “what she did/what he did/what they saw.” Being changed by Christ means that we can view a situation as more than guilty/non-gulity verdict over the death of a spotless/deplorable human being. We can view a situation and see that just because justice has been dealt, it doesn’t mean that it has been fully dealt. Just because justice has not been dealt doesn’t mean that justice won’t(or hasn’t) been dealt. As Christians, we are able to respond to this in a gracious way because of this fact we know about the cross: Christ died for sinners.
The cross changes the way we view our neighbor. The cross changes the way we view life. The cross changes the way we cry for justice because no greater act of injustice has ever happened that is greater than an innocent man, Jesus, paying for the transgressions of those who are ultimately responsible for killing Him. The cross helps us see that death is always and only a devastating result of brokenness that exist within all of us(1 Timothy 1:15). The cross changes the way we view the transgressions of Terrance Crutcher and those of Betty Shelby. The cross gives us hope that justice exists for Terence Crutcher. The cross assures us that earthly justice for Betty Shelby is vain without understanding the justice Jesus carried for us all.
The cross changes everything.