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Christian Life

No one is good except God (or: how I learned to stop worrying and love Black Lives Matter)

I’ve thrown away 3,000 words across 3 articles in the past 10 days.

Not because they were bad words. They were good. Very good, if I may say so myself. And they are likely words someone needs to hear.

Words about stories versus statistics, about time and place, about systems and slogans, about freedom over sin.

But as I stared at yet another blank page, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper across my mind like an exhaled breath across desert sand.

“Let it go.”

And I cried.

Partly in relief, but mostly in frustration. I want to have the courage of my convictions, to speak up and be “humble and ready to fumble,” as Ericka Hines so deftly puts it. Didn’t I just publically announce that I wouldn’t be silent anymore?! How can I “let it go” when there’s so much to say?

What followed was the sort of divine wallop that happens in half a second but takes half an hour to explain and doesn’t make sense to anyone except you. But here goes:

Nothing was wrong with the words I wrote. But I’m not the person who needs to say them.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. [Rom 12:6-8 ESV]

I’m not a race educator. I’m not a thought leader. I’m not a political scientist or sociologist or economist or historian.

I’m a teacher. I’m a theologian. A Bible nerd. And a relatively new one at that.

That’s my lane.

I’m also a student. First and foremost, I’m a student of the Word, but in this current apocalypse, I’m a student of other image-bearers who are going out of their way—again—to educate me in the effects of sin.

A student’s job is to listen. To take notes and do research. To adjust their routine and preferred modalities to incorporate what they’re learning. Not debate semantics, argue validity, or take over the podium. Questions are important. Critical thinking is required. Debate can be healthy. But the primary objective must be to absorb new information, equip it, then use it for good—not to give the lecture.

I cannot teach what I don’t yet know.

This isn’t to say I have no role here. I still need to be brave, to raise my voice, speak the truth in love, and use the power I have in my own lane for good in the name of Jesus. I intend to keep doing that.

But bravery without wisdom is foolishness.

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—[…] The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. [Prov 1:5-7 NIV]

To grow in wisdom, I need to be willing to be taught by those who do know what they’re talking about, to educate myself, and to choose the right moment to chime in rather than injecting myself into a conversation just because it’s happening.

Sometimes, to take a stand, you need to take a seat.

The other thing the Holy Spirit wants me to let go of is my desperate need to be good.

“No one is good except God alone.” [Mark 10:18 ESV]

I’ve been avoiding explicit support for the Black Lives Matter movement despite passionately believing in those words. I’ve allowed my disagreement with certain elements of the larger organization to hobble my allyship because I’m afraid of being condemned for not falling into lockstep (or being stamped anti-police, which I am not).

What set me free was an offhand comment in one of the many (many) videos I’ve watched that reminded me it’s a rare person who agrees with every single plank in a political candidate’s platform. Loads of people supported Hillary in 2016 despite her shadiness, for example. Ditto Trump. We vote for the combination of ideas that best aligns with our sense of truth; we vote based on agreeing more than we disagree.

I don’t need to avoid supporting #BlackLivesMatter simply because I don’t agree with every single plank in the organization’s platform.

I also don’t need to cosign #DefundThePolice despite urgently believing radical reform is necessary.

I don’t need to repackage or subvert the vernacular of change for my comfort; examining and understanding its meaning helps me and others who are challenged by it.

I don’t need to publically address every facet of the wide, deep, and old problem of racial injustice. I couldn’t possibly.

I do need to address it in my heart, mind, and soul. I need to address it in my home. In my church. In my friendship circles. My bookshelf. My Bible. My Netflix. My feeds.

I do need to speak up when injustice happens, when wrongs are done, regardless of fear or time and place or person.

Because that’s what Jesus did.

And I need to be about Jesus as much as I talk about Jesus.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” [John 8:36 ESV]

Jesus disrupted the narrative. He upset every context he entered by blasting hatred, mistrust, fear, and lies with truth and grace—with a radical love that no one still fully understands. He entered conflict with those in power on behalf of those with none so that all of them could be free from the curse of sin, condemnation, and death.

This is not about platforms, organizations, agendas, or statistics. It’s not about perfectionism or performance. It’s definitely not about White people liberating Black people.

This is about all of humanity getting free from sin. Our liberation is bound up together. We are one with the One who created us. And until all of us are free—body, soul, and spirit—none of us are free.

This is not a revolution, y’all. It’s a revelation.

And I’m here for it.

I saw a large crowd with more people than could be counted. They were from every race, tribe, nation, and language, and they stood before the throne and before the Lamb. [Rev 7:9 CEV]

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