Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, & Racialized Sin

Blog - Alton SterlingTroubling thoughts keeping me up late and waking me up early:

1. It’s devastating to see non-Christians more torn up over black people dying than white Christians. I’m sad and angry and embarrassed and grieving.

2. Implicit bias is more dangerous than overt hatred because it operates underground. It has been stunning to witness all the racism that has risen to the surface over the course of Obama’s presidency. My head was in the sand.

3. Refusal to address racialized sin has undermined our capacity to fulfill our Romans 12:15 calling to “mourn with those who mourn.” (Mika Edmondson) As a son still grieving the loss of my father, I can tell you how incredibly healing it is when you encounter people who choose to grieve with you. And how painful it is when people do not. I grieve and feel for the family of Alton Sterling. My heart breaks for the family of Philando Castile. Their lives matter.

4. Refusal to call out racialized sin has blocked our capacity to heed the warning of the prophets of old: Repent. It is embarrassing that it has taken the ubiquity of cell phone cameras to open the eyes of culture to injustice that has been there all along. If the church won’t say it, it seems that God will allow Youtube or BET to bring it to light. Injustice must be confessed. Hatred must be addressed. Indifference must be forsaken. The blood of the innocent cries out to heaven. God forbid that we block our ears. I have been a part of the problem, and I repent. My silence has been part of the problem, and I repent. I have benefitted from a system where the playing field is not level.

5. If you question the need to repent of corporate or systemic sin, then I challenge you to consider Nehemiah (1:6) or Daniel (9:20). These giants of the faith found the need and humility to repent of both personal and corporate sin. Tell me what I can do, people ask me. Please read The New Jim Crow. I don’t want to hear another white person tell me they never owned a slave. I never want to hear another white person bring up black on black crime. Enough. Lord we confess our sin of racism, which we have sinned against You. Have mercy.

6. Sunday morning is still the most segregated time of the week. Why are all the black kids on one side of the spiritual cafeteria while all the white kids are on the other side? Because the church forgot who we are. The church forgot our prayer, on earth as it is in heaven. And in heaven it’s every tongue and every tribe gathered in reconciled unity under the blood bought banner of Jesus.

7. I don’t want to hear another person invalidate the pain. Or fear. Or suspicion. Or anger. Or hurt. Or outrage. The tears are rolling and the hearts are broken. Friends are asking me, how can people be so passionate about abortion and human trafficking and clean water halfway across the world, and then be so cold to death in their own backyard. These same people that prayed with you, worshipped with you … How can they be so blind? And it’s hard to not feel like they’re blind on purpose. Maybe they wouldn’t pull a trigger, but how can they be so silent when it happens? If my white brothers and sisters in Christ don’t get it, what white person will? I thought they’d be different. I’m angry. We’re struggling – in a different way. A lot of us in a speechless way.

8. Someone has to be different. If you’re a majority, we need you to model the way in humility and understanding and contrition and repentance. Grieve. If you’re a minority, your challenge is something like what you’re needing from white believers. Be different. It is rare to hear a God-centered response in times like these. When the heat is on, Christians are so tempted to play the predictably tune of the rest of the world. Taking their cues and becoming echoes of whatever talking head they just heard. Stop being an echo when you were made to have a voice. I just hung up the phone with Civil Rights activist John Perkins. This is the man whose brother was killed by white policemen. This is the man who was imprisoned and beaten to the point of death because of the color of his skin. This is a man who bears in his body the marks of racial injustice. Yet he constantly warns me: Feel the pain. Be angry. But bring it to Jesus, and let Him make it redemptive. If your eyes move away from Jesus, you won’t see straight. You never beat hate with hate, you beat it looking at the One who took it with whips and thorns and beatings.

9. If you are reading this as part of our faith family, I charge us afresh to embrace our call to offer this world the Gospel alternative. It’s a day to pray and fast and weep. To have hard feet and soft hearts. To open our mouths and spend our lives. To be a community with too much brown to be called a white church, and too much hispanic to be called a black church – a body that models the diversity and reconciliation and redemption and healing and power and grace and justice and mercy of God’s kingdom. I was supposed to be on preaching sabbatical for one more week, but I’ll be coming back early to address these painful realities from the heart of the kingdom of God. Please pray for us.

10. The people with the most hope lead. So let’s go lead, because we have hope. Not because of where we are, but because of where He is: sitting on a throne of justice

17 Replies to “Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, & Racialized Sin”

  1. Pastor Mike as a member of your church for over 10 years, I’ve nothing but love to you, your family, and the people of our church of all races. I am shocked that you’ve taken this turn in your messages. Instead of addressing The people like me, who have been stopped by police about 20 times in my life and have NEVER been mistreated or abused, as a matter of fact, I’ve done everything they asked me to do and been treated with respect. I spoke to somebody today that told me you make them feel as if their life doesn’t matter because they’re not black. As one of the smartest man I’ve encountered, with so much biblical knowledge, such love for people, I really think you need to think about what you’re doing. There is injustice of all sorts out there. Why did not you take the role of the family & respect to authority? Whether it be parents or teachers or the police?! … and the unification of the family? And the absenteeism of fathers? I thought today, after a long sabbatical, I had that you would get your thoughts straight but I’ve now lost hope. Why didn’t you mention the unjustness in what was done to the police officers that were innocent? Seriously? I’m confused & saddened about this. Being a Hispanic, I don’t sit around and scream about how Hispanics are seen as drug dealers because in the 80s all the Cubans were dropped off here and took over South Florida eventually the United States etc. I try to be responsible, respectful, and work hard. It seems like what you’re saying is that it should be different for the ones that who were once enslaved. None of the people who are living now that are claiming all of this BLM stuff where ever slaves. Just as I treat all people alike regardless of their color because were not living in the slavery movement, nor are we living in the “women can’t speak era”, neither shall we be treating a black person different anymore because hundred years ago they were enslaved. We all have the same choices we can make in this life for good or bad or evil.

  2. Praying for the Church to widen our hearts as it says in 2 Corinthians 5 & 6; “For we have been given the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, NOT counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Then we appeal to you, not to receive the grace of God in vain. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. We have spoken freely to you, Church; our heart is open wide. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return widen your hearts also.”

  3. The entire human race derives from one man. Hence, since we all derive from one, it is evident that we are all equal in our value as human beings. Anything outside of this is false, wrong, untrue. It’s time we see each other as such. And if we do not, we need to repent. For He is the only one who can cleanse us of this. 1John 1:9

  4. Well said he who I am so glad is my Pastor. It is one of the reasons we need to pray. It is an issue of the heart. But only when God has revealed the truth to the heart can people respond properly. Too many people have been indoctrinated by the family and society they grew up in. They can’t see the issues effecting others. They don’t realize that everything that effects everyone effects us all. We need to love all as brothers and sisters regardless of their race or creed and even of their prejudices. Not easily done. But yes repentance and talking help. Love to you. Helen

  5. “The people with the most hope lead. So let’s go lead, because we have hope. Not because of where we are, but because of where He is: sitting on a throne of justice.” – P. Mike

    Thank you.

  6. We need Shepherds that tell the people what is really going on! The devil is the prince of the air. It is to cause racism and division. It is a setup for the new world order. Things are going to get so out of control so the government will bring in martial law and take over. The devil will make it look justified. Its time to WAKE up! Stand up for whats right, Not black power or white power but Jesus power! If you want to hear it really well, and amazing truth, listen to this guy on facebook Marcus Rogers! He’s a black guy serving our country who says it like it is!

  7. Tragic, yes, yet 3000 babies are killed every day by abortion, mostly black, where is that out cry? Why are black men not protesting these deaths? (consider carefully your answer to that question)
    Our current government promotes inequality. It seeks to fester the wound of “others have it better than I do, so they should give me what they have so I can be like them” As the Church representing Jesus Christ here on earth, we should giving a ‘hand up’ not a ‘hand out’. Big Church Buildings are nice, but who has that helped? Money given to missions on the other side of the world are nice, but what has that done to help our brother on the East Side of Gainesville. We need to be rewarding and teaching ‘Fatherhood’ in all communities, not ‘father-less-ness’ We need to be teaching responsibility, marriage, family and hard work, not rewarding ‘I am do, it’s owed to me, I deserve it, it’s all about me. Pastor Mike, you need to reconsider your thoughts and direction on these issues. You are using your platform to stir the racial pot as much as any of these protests. Protests only bring destruction, hurt, deeper wounds and death.
    God’s Word contains all of the answers. This is not a new problem. Sin and Self are the root problems and Satan is having a field day with pastors who do not directly confront all sin.

  8. Amen. It’s a time to grieve. It’s a time for action. It’s time to make changes in the hearts and minds of those willing to embrace the possibilities.

  9. Dear pastor Mike,
    I am so grieved to hear of the loss of these 2 men in the fatal shootings this week. Just as I am grieved to hear on the news just now about the 6 Dallas officers(3 who were killed) as a result of the outrage over the shootings. The sin of man has led to another senseless death.
    You are very well respected and influential in our community sir, so I understand the heart behind your words in that the church needs to acknowledge sin, repent, and walk in love…and not racialize sin as you say. However, as a human being(God’s Creation) first and then everything else after that(Black/mixed woman,etc), I found many of your words racially divisive and baiting. I don’t ever want the White community to acknowledge their “injustice” (or not) towards my community/culture. The church is united because of Christ, not because of or in spite of skin color. Why should the white person sitting next to me at church acknowledge black injustice, black lives matter, and/or “the New Jim Crow” in order for me to feel valued. (It’s actually patronizing, if I may be real.) I mean, aren’t we all united under the blood? Then why are we seeking justice from the world when we are called to let the Lord deliver us, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Period. End of discussion. No need for a forum about it.
    We(the church) would be more useful to instead have a “conversation” about why our young people are walking away from God and the church in droves; why Christian marriages are failing faster than the world; why our churches look more like the world than the Word because we spend lots of time on apologizing instead of discipleship. I’m sure we could go on. We, in the black community do not need handouts, excuses made for us, or our backs stroked. We, all the world, need to cry out to Jesus! Forgive us Lord, awaken us Lord I pray.
    Thank you for your heart to serve the Lord pastor…let us keep serving Him and let Him guard and defend our lives. We certainly need Him to because at our hands there is no deliverance m, but destruction.
    Blessings!

    http://utmost.org/the-overshadowing-of-god%e2%80%99s-personal-deliverance/

  10. My daughter called me this morning, sobbing because of what society do to her bi-racial children. Seven out of my nine grandchildren are bi-racial. God does not give us the spirit of fear. He gives the spirit of love and action. I told her take care of today and God will take care of tomorrow. Today we can love, reach out and befriend. Racism is an insidious disease in America….but, when it becomes personal people can change. I saw it happen in my own family after the babies were born.

  11. In the same token, it’s devastating to see Christians upset over bathrooms and wedding cakes than the hundreds of thousands of Middle Eastern Muslims killed in terrorist attacks. It’s devastating that mosques are being vandalized and Muslims discriminated against here, while Christians protest having to allow people to get married in a civil ceremony, as per their job requirements.

  12. Any religion which professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them, is a dry-as-dust religion. 

    Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

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