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Friday, October 30, 2015

A Biblical View Is The Best View

Should only Black lives matter or should all lives matter? That is the question. And the answer is it depends. It depends on what we are referring to when discussing what matters. Are we referring to the movement or the opinion when saying 'Black Lives Matter'? The same applies to saying 'All Lives Matter.'

In his article on the Biblical view of Black Lives Matter (click here for the article), Jeremy Williams (click here for a very short bio) responds to the opinion with a resounding 'YES!' But it wouldn't be wrong if he was responded to the movement in the same way either. Why? Because the movement is there to address the disproportionate number of Blacks who are the victims of police shootings and abuse, mass incarceration, and youth unemployment. We could also throw in here the stagnant, if not worsening, disparity in wealth between Blacks and Whites. So saying 'All Lives Matter,' though being what we should say and believe, undercuts the attention society needs to pay to the plight of Blacks and other minoirities in our society.

Williams' article here is both simple and important. While focusing on the opinion that Black lives matter, he notes the obstacles that that are put in the way of those in the Black community: the mass incarceration, the overwhelming presence of drugs, the closing of schools, the presence of businesses that financially exploit people, and the placing of liquor stores, there is a sense that the Black community is being targeted. And here is the problem for those of us who are not Black, none of the above seems to pose a threat to those of us who are moral and law abiding. Thus, some of us tend to believe that Blacks are bringing problems on themselves by not exercising self-discipline. And because we can deduce such a conclusion, we feel no urgency to experience in person or ask for first hand accounts of what it is like to live in Black neighborhoods. 

This reminds me reminds me of my visit to the 4th birthday celebration of Occupy Wall Street. As I was talking to some Blacks who live in New York City, I was trying to tell them that many of my suburban friends find their experiences with the police as being as incredulous as they find our experience to be as I was discussing how many of the suburban police I've seen treat protesters, even the ones they are arresting, with respect. The issue is that us Whites who live in safe neighborhoods must take an investigative journalist approach to learning about life in Black communities rather than using our own neighborhoods to assume what life there is like.

Williams then gives an all too brief account of how the plight of immigrants is not all that easier from the plight of many Blacks.

Williams then proceeds to answer the question whether Jesus would say 'all lives matter' or 'black lives matter.' Here, Williams answers with the latter. Why? Because Jesus cared for those who needed to be cared for. He sided with the marginalized and those who had no leader. This is also why Jesus would reach out to welcome and help the immigrants if He were here today. On what does Williams base his opinions? He bases them on Jesus' earthly ministry. He bases his answers on how Jesus talked to the Samaritan women by the well or on when He told His disciples that He pursues His lost sheep. We could throw in Jesus' parable of the sheep and the goats.

Finally, Williams notes how the Evangelical Church does not follow Jesus' example in how they treat the vulnerable. While Jesus would look to minister to them, many of today's evangelicals are 'annoyed' with Black Lives Matter and afraid of what immigrants are doing to our nation.  Thus, those evangelicals who are also part of the marginalized sometimes feel like they have to "sell out" in order to fit in.

In one sense, based on how Williams described Jesus, Jesus would fit in in the May Day celebrations because it is the vulnerable whom those who organize such celebrations focus on. Only, instead of relying on ideology to save those in need, He would offer Himself. And indeed, He both already has in His first coming and he continues to through the preaching of the Gospel and the sending of the Spirit. While those who have the biggest ideological hangups might just be those whose ideology has trumped their understanding of God so that they do not respond to the vulnerable as Jesus did.




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