The events of this past week revealed an ever-present and prevalent darkness in our nation. Racism. It’s been a reality since the beginning of time. People are always looking for ways to think they are superior to other people. Skin color has been one of the ways of superiority and distinction since the beginning of time. I say that not to minimize what happened in our nation this past week, but to put it in context. It’s also important to realize that the removal of a statue didn’t create a monster; it revealed a monster that for a time laid dormant and quiet.
On the evening of August 11, 2017 in Charlottesville, VA., several hundred white nationalists and white supremacists marched as part of a ‘Unite the Right’ rally at the University of Virginia. They chanted, “White lives matter,” “You will not replace us,” “Jews will not replace us,” and the Nazi-associated phrase “blood and soil.” The pictures are eerily similar to that of Klan rallies from our tainted past – torches and right hands raised, the only thing missing were the hoods. As I watched the events unfold, I was saddened, enraged, and grieved. I was reminded afresh of Jesus’ words to “love my enemies,” but I found that to be hardest when the people who were my enemies looked like me and were claiming to represent and advocate for me.
The prophet Micah confronts the nation of Israel – God’s chosen people – with their divine calling. In Micah 6:8 he wrote, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” It’s clear, God chose Israel so that they could be a people of justice, kindness, and humility – not superiority or supremacy. Not only that, but justice wasn’t given as an option to God’s people, it was given as a command, it was a requirement. It was a requirement of God’s people then and it is a requirement of God’s people now.
What does it look like to be people who do justice? What does it look like in our day and time to be a prophetic voice that points to a better way and displays a more hopeful narrative? Well, on the morning after the initial march, a group of clergy organized a worship and prayer service. Standing opposite the growing group of white supremacists they declared their God loved people every tribe, tongue, and nation. Maybe it looks a little bit like that! As we dive into the topic of justice this week, ask the Lord to search you, challenge you, and lead you to “do justice.” Ask him to reveal blind spots (because we all have them) in your life and lead you in the way of life (Psalm 139:23-24).
By Ryan Paulson