George Floyd’s One-Month Anniversary: How Christians Can Serve This Cultural Moment
In the initial heady weeks of protest, I think most Christ-followers got behind the moral truth that black lives matter. Good. But protesting is easy. Effecting lasting change isn’t. The question that has occupied my mind daily for the last month is, “what is one thing that every Christian can do to be part of the solution?”
Finding an answer has not been easy. Just when I think I can embrace a particular argument or socio-political solution, a new blog or book comes out explaining why I shouldn’t. If such-and-such is my premise on race, then it will come back and bite me when I want to argue about sexuality and gender. If I use such-and-such a phrase, I am propagating Marxism. If I use another phrase, I am a right-wing nut case. If I acknowledge white fragility, then I confirm that reality; but if I deny it, my denial proves I suffer from white fragility! If I object to looting and violent protest, I am missing the point. If I wink at it, I am sanctioning lawlessness.
When I wear my responsible-Christian hat, I know that the gospel is the only lasting hope for social and racial health, and I want to channel all my energies in that direction. When I wear my responsible-citizen hat, I know that governments are commissioned by God to protect the weak, so I want to challenge my energy into social reform. The Church seems better at reconciliation. The World seems better at justice. How do I engage in both? “Hug and make up” is not enough. But will anything be enough? Damned if I do. Damned if I don’t. Confused. Despairing. Paralyzed.
So, I want to suggest a way forward, an answer of sorts. It is not the total answer, but it is a significant part of the answer. Most importantly, it is something every Christian can do, and I think we should do. Here it is:
Make friends – proper friends – with someone of a different ethnic reality to you.
Theologically, friend-making (especially with the goal of understanding, loving, and healing) is an undeniable part of the Second Commandment. It is also how the gospel spreads, and the gospel is the only lasting hope for racial justice and reconciliation.
Sociologically, a grass-roots movement of cross-ethnic friendships must raise the tide of racial understanding, justice, and reconciliation in society. Laws need to be amended. Structures need to be adjusted. But these changes will not happen, at least will not happen peacefully and productively, without an expanded matrix of cross-ethnic friendships.
Christians, if there is one thing we can do by the grace of God, it is friend-making with people who are different from us. In Christ, this is our super-power (2 Cor. 5:18, Gal. 3:28, Eph. 2:13-19).
What if we all developed a decent friendship with a person of another ethnicity over the next year? Intentional cross-ethnic friend-making is where our call to be faithful Christians, and faithful citizens intersect in this cultural moment.
Does the challenge sound too simple? Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?” – 2 Kings 5:13