How do we respond to the killing of George Floyd? How do we respond to the protests that followed? How do we respond to the destruction of property that is happening? We all have our opinions and our knee jerk reactions. But let’s stop and ask how our Lord and Savior would have us respond. Too often in these situations when emotions run high and our echo chambers take sides, we forget that we have a Lord, that we follow Jesus. Where is Jesus leading us?
A Christian is called to compassion. Think about your own response, your own emotions. Are you being compassionate? How do we show compassion to the family of Mr. Floyd? How do we show compassion to the protesters? How do we show compassion to law enforcement? How do we show compassion to law breakers? How do we show compassion to the African American community?
The word compassion means literally “to suffer with.” God showed compassion to humanity by coming to us in Jesus and suffering with us. God suffered betrayal, oppression, injustice, violence and murder. Jesus lived a life of compassion. He always had his eye on those who were being oppressed. In his day it was Samaritans, women and children. He spoke harsh words to those in power like Herod and the Pharisees and his own people. But to those who suffered oppression he showed mercy, grace and love. He used his power to bridge divides and offer healing. He never retreated to the safety of his tribe; he never circled the wagons; he always crossed over in compassion and love.
Jesus invited us to follow him and his way in the world. We must therefore condemn racism in all its forms. We must listen to the African American community with compassion and the desire to understand their experience. We must acknowledge the ways that those of us who are white benefit from being in the majority. If we have voice and power, then we must use that to serve our neighbors who are ignored or silenced. And we must confess our own sins of commission and omission. We ask God to forgive us and we repent. That is the Christian way, the way of Jesus.
What would it be like to have an officer have his knee on your neck until you died? What would it be like to be so angry at the oppression of your people that you wanted to march in protest? What would it be like to be so frustrated by injustice that you wanted to destroy something? What would it feel like to live in constant fear that a minor infraction could lead to your death?
I don’t have the answers to systemic racism in American. But I think, at the very least, we can start with compassion. We can suffer with those who are hurting and put ourselves in their shoes. Maybe then we can be part of the solution. In the end it is only God who can change the human heart. May God transform us again and transform our hearts and the heart of this nation. May we all see and treat each person as a fellow creature made in the image of Almighty God.