I asked Charles Taylor, GCI Pastor in Miramar, Florida, to take this column and share notes from a sermon he gave on racial injustice. The point of his sermon was that in the midst of the real suffering and deep pain of racial injustice, we hold to the truth that God is real and he is there for us and in us. He will strengthen and comfort us as he brings his justice.
To this I say Amen, and thank you Charles for the following article. Have a blessed month.
Know Justice Know Peace – Know Jesus Know Peace
by Charles Taylor
We are at a time of crisis in our country—people are still suffering over the loss of loved ones during the coronavirus epidemic. Our hearts, prayers, and sadness go out to those who have lost loved ones, those who are still in hospitals isolated and alone and those fighting the virus from home. On the heels of this great pandemic we are faced with another crisis that has been smoldering for years in our country—like kindling on a fire has been the seeds of hatred—institutional racism, structural systemic inequality, and police brutality has once again erupted and spilled into the streets and all of our lives. “No Justice, No Peace” is being shouted from the rooftops, for there can be no peace in this world or any world where there is injustice. It might feel peaceful for those in control, but for those who are being mistreated, marginalized, and killed, there is no peace.
As believers in the Way and followers of Christ, to know true justice is to know we have been made right with God through Jesus Christ—forgiven, accepted, and transformed. To know true peace, is to have peace that transforms our lives. This peace dictates that all humans are created in the image of God and every human is to be loved and valued—never using skin color or anything else as a determining factor of how someone is treated. Christ died for all humanity—all with the same intrinsic value and worth.
Christ followers empathize with those who are hurting, have lost loved ones, and feel the evil sting of racial injustice. Any person of color has felt this pain, many of us have been profiled, and many of us have even lost family members at the hands of racial violence and injustice. Empathizing begins with listening to others—hearing the deep thoughts and feelings of the other without your pre-conceived opinions and evaluations.
As we look at the recent and past events of our country—horrific injustices, murders, and a whole range of inappropriate responses—we see a great need for monumental lasting change not only in our society but also in the transformation of hearts. Racism has no place anywhere. It’s not black against white, or race against race—it’s humanity against the tyranny of racism and injustice. Its love against hate, its unity against domineering division.
Recent events surrounding the wrongful deaths of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, and George Floyd in Minnesota (and many countless more unnamed, but lamented) are tragic and illustrate severe racial injustices and systemic inequalities in the United States. I am angered and saddened over the recurring trauma experienced by African Americans. (I relate to Ephesians 4:26, which reminds us it is okay to be angry, just don’t sin in your anger.) Racism and any violent abuse of power must be condemned; there has to be a call for justice for victims and their families. As humans, we should combat attitudes and systems that perpetuate racism. I am grateful for those law enforcement officers who honorably serve and protect our communities and urge our members to uphold them in prayer.
Racism is an affront to the value of individuals created in God’s image and to the divinely designed diversity of redeemed humanity. This denial of personhood and belonging runs contrary to the peace and unity that God intended in the beginning and that the Bible depicts as our destiny.
Racism appears in beliefs or practices that distinguish or elevate one race over others. When accompanied and sustained by imbalances of power, prejudice moves beyond individual relationships to institutional practices. This racial injustice is the systemic perpetuation of racism. Its existence has unfairly benefitted some and burdened others simply due to the color of their skin and the cultural associations based upon perceptions of race.
No race or ethnicity is greater or more valuable than another. We believe that the good news of Jesus Christ has the power to break down racial and ethnic barriers (Ephesians 2:14–18). It has the power to love and forgive and the power to be all that God created us to be as a nation!
Why should we speak up? Why must the church speak up?
- We speak up because we have love and empathy for those in pain and suffering from injustice.
Paul reminds us to rejoice with those who are rejoicing, and to weep with those who are weeping (Romans 12:15). This is a time for empathy and compassion.
We understand pain, we understand suffering, we understand grief, but we cannot claim to understand the grief, pain and suffering someone else is going through. So the first thing to do is acknowledge the pain, listen to the grief, and then join them in their suffering. Joining them means hearing them, standing up for what is wrong, and speaking against injustice. We speak up because we are affected by brothers and sisters facing pain, and grief, and suffering as the result of injustice and mistreatment. Speaking up does not mean joining others in sinful reactions. Neither does speaking up mean offering empty platitudes. Many of us have experienced going through a deep personal trial and a Christian friend feels compelled to quote Romans 8:28 and remind us that God said all things will work together for good. Those in pain don’t need to be reminded of the promises as much as they need to feel your understanding, your love and your empathy. Being present is often more powerful than any words expressed.
2) We speak up because speaking up is a mandate of Jesus Christ to the church.
We are burdened by the same injustices Jesus dealt with as he stood in the synagogue and proclaimed, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners—[hatred, racism, greed, fear, anger, revenge and unforgiveness are all prisons]—and recovery of sight for the blind—[two types of blindness—where one just can’t see and where one refuses to see]—to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
This was Jesus proclaiming his mission for himself and the church. As the Father sent me, so I send you. Go and speak up!
3) We speak up because black lives matter—because all lives matter!
Black lives matter. What does this really mean—black lives matter? It means yes, all lives matter, but until black lives matter, all lives don’t matter because black lives are a part of all lives, and black lives have not mattered in many ways.
Genesis tells us all humanity was created in the image of God. Jesus lived, died and rose for all humanity. The same value placed on one life is the same value on all life.
I heard an example regarding the understanding of black lives matter: When an individual’s response to black lives matter is “all lives matter”, it’s like going to a funeral where someone has lost a child, and they are speaking about how much they loved their child and how painful the loss is and how much that child’s life mattered to them. Then someone stands up and says, hey my child’s life matters, too. Yes, your child’s life matters, but right now we are trying to help this mother process and heal from her loss. Yes, all lives matter, but unless black lives matter, how can one say all lives matter, when part of the “all” doesn’t matter to some?
We have to know that all lives matter to God. Our view of God can never match how infinitely big and eternal God is, but our view of God has to be huge! We have to believe that nothing human society says or does or writes can change what God has said about you and me! Redeemed, infinite worth, valued, called by name, made in his own image, intelligent, beautiful, chosen, forgiven, blessed! It is incongruent that human beings be treated unfairly, with disdain, disrespected or disregarded, because that is the opposite of how God created us to be treated. God created us to be in relationship with him for eternity. He determined our worth; he determined our value. No other human can determine that, only God can.
4) We speak up because we see the big picture.
One would be blind not to see and praise God for how things have changed through the years. Young people are motivated and mobilized to make things better. We see people from all races, colors, creeds, and cultures joined arm in arm marching and protesting and demonstrating peacefully—humans against racism. As humanity, we join in one voice seeking justice, equality, peace, and hope. And we know that God is the answer! His kingdom is coming and not even the gates of hell can prevail against it!
Jesus said, I have come to give life and life more abundantly; the devil has come to kill, to steal, and to destroy.
We have to see the big picture. The battle might look like it’s against flesh and blood, but the real battle, the invisible one, is not against flesh and blood, it is against principalities, evil in high places, demonic forces that thrive in hateful racism, injustice and promote eye-for-an-eye retaliation.
Jesus, however, came in the spirit of reconciliation and calls us to be reconcilers. He came to give us life in abundance—all of us. He came to show there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female—all are equally loved by him.
He came to bring us his justice.
The crowds shout “No Justice, No Peace.” As believers we see things differently. When we know his justice, we will know peace. If we know Jesus, we know peace. In other words, we know true justice only when we know the peace of Christ.
He came and restored us to relationship with the Father. He brought two groups of people together—Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles). He brought us together through his death on the cross. The cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to those who were outsiders and peace to those who were insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.
Know justice, know peace. Know Jesus, know peace.
25 thoughts on “Know Justice Know Peace — Know Jesus Know Peace”
I heard the sermon and read your article. Amen to this. Thanks, Charles.
Well said. Thanks for sharing this very important & needed message.
Thank you Pastor Charles. Amen and Amen! This was Holy Spirit led and thank you for allowing the Lord to move through your words. I pray they are heard. We all must examine our hearts and stand for what God is calling us to do. Very thankful God sees all, hears all and knows all.
Great article Charles. Here in Canada a big issue is the past and present treatment of Indigenous people along with Black people and Asians as well. An issue that non-Indegenous people should learn about and seek to understand. Thanks for a Christian treament of the topic!
Thank you Charles for God’s wisdom and understanding. We must also remember that all blood is red and when the covering is removed from each of us we are the same. Praise God.
Well said ! And that is not to say that the message of those crying out about the state of justice today (the history of Injustice in this present evil world) has no validity. The efficacy of the bridge over the deep and dark chasm is how the glorious side is reached.
Great article and I am in full agreement. I can have peace because of Jesus. But I am always amazed at how white evangelicals, professing Christians never speak up or speak out. From the days of slavery and
to this day. they have supported racism, ostracism, white privilelege and white superiority. What If all or even a large portion of white evangelicals spoke up and spoke out against these injustices. But no I think
many quietly suport the injustices, racism and white superior thinking of our country. Our great Almighy
Loving God uses people to make change, he touches willing hearts. Where are the willing hearts in the white evangelical community who support and encourage the status quo
Thank you Charles for your words of wisdom.May we all listen and obey God,s voice of reason and grow in His love xxx
Great message Charles. So well articulated. Thank you for the analogy of a mother grieving at a funeral and the misguided person saying “But my child’s life matters too”. That analogy works so well and I will use it in future conversations about Black Lives Matters. Thanks for writing up this article, it will be a great resource going forward.
Thank you for the example of grieving parents at their child’s funeral. It would be harsh/heartless to say, “all children’s lives matter” at such a time. Your focus on Jesus’ gospel and this example are helpful.
Excellent, Charles! You clearly and passionately articulate a message we all need. We, particularly as Christians, need to speak up and live the hope of justice and peace we all have in Jesus. We need to recognize and avoid the platitudes we fall back on so easily and exemplify a unity that is only real as we live and act together to ensure liberty and equality for all. By God’s Spirit let’s move on together.
I agree with what you are saying Charles. As Christians we should stand up against injustice no matter who it is against. I like your explanation of why Black Lives Matter. I pray that one day all of this pain will be behind us.
Let’s shout from the rooftop that until black lives matter we as Christians cannot promote profess. Or proclaim the Love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Amen
Thank you, Charles. May your article touch our hearts and actions.
Eugene Dumas July 7th, 2020 at 6:00 pm
Well done Mr. Taylor. We all need to heed your words and live by them. We Christians must be the light of the world as God has commanded. God’s church must not let society contaminate it to the extent that it behaves like hate filled non-believers.
Hopefully and prayerfully your words have touched the hearts of us who choose to remain silent. Are we waiting for the rocks to cry out? How sad the complacency of those who claim to love the Lord..
Exactly! Thank you Pastor Taylor for this spirit-led article. Well said and hope that it is “well read”. Jesus’ peace is what helps me to keep all of this in His perspective.
Very well articulated Charles, thank you for knowing Jesus straight from the heart and sharing this good news with not only your congregation but the masses.
Blessings to you and the family, love you all.
Loved it! Enough said.
Thank you Pastor Taylor for this very deep and painful subject. Some can’t understand HOW deep, but to be rejected, or left out, is a painful thing. All sin is condemned. But thank you for this insight, and explanation to us all.
Thank you, dear brother. Thank you for reminding us of the big picture and what true Love means and looks like, for Love liberates.
I invited our church fellowship to watch your video on two separate dates and had an open forum equal to the length of the message. You inspired me to address BLM in my June Pastor’s Letter. Thank you for your courage and insight. The biblical connection you exposed of an unequal balance such in accepting bribes causing inescapable blindness to even the wise is a phenomenon not too dissimilar to white privilege. Initially, we cannot see the unequal advantages we enjoy because we feel so entitled. Consider the children on the super-rich whose parents got them admitted to prestigious universities by resorting to unfair financial tactics, in many cases unbeknownst to the children. How do we remedy this? This begs the question: equality vs. equity.
Reuben in Torrance, California
Thank you so much for highlighting this oh so important situation through which our world and our way of life, we deliberately or unintentionally tend to suppress from our thoughts. As Christians we stand for one powerful voice through the presence of Jesus Christ in which in us all he lives. When Jesus taught his family ( his people ) live’s would be changed forever in doing good towards all men. Following the fathers commandments is the powerhouse of our existence. Abolition of suppression regardless of colour, age, and gender is a race we must win. God bless you all ??
Deeply said, Deeply thankful.
That was well said and well timed. I will be sharing this article with my family. God bless you for saying what needs to be said as Christians.