Dr. Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, TX, recently spoke on the issue of the persistent racial divide in America in light of the events in Ferguson, MO, following the grand jury’s decision in the police shooting of Michael Brown. Dr. Evans, who is also the founder and president of The Urban Alternative, believes that God has uniquely positioned the church to address the racial divide in the country so that situations like that in Ferguson can be handled in a peaceful, sensitive, and amicable manner. Listen to Dr. Evans and read his comments below.
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Hello, this is Dr. Tony Evans with the Urban Alternative, and I know you, like myself, are concerned about the racial climate in our country, today, and the recent incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, have demonstrated that even though we may have come a long way, we still have a long way to go; and it demonstrates clearly that this issue of racial division is just below the surface and it doesn’t take much to ignite it into a fire storm.
The problem here, from a Christian perspective, is that God has to be brought to bear on this never ending scenario. When I say, God, I don’t mean in just a general religious way, but specifically based on His Word, we must address this issue head-on, without apology, yet with love. In our situation in our nation, today, you have a cry for law and order. It is a righteous cry. You also have a cry for justice, which is a righteous cry. What has complicated the issue is a history that has not been lost. There is a real history of racism and its aftermath. Most African Americans have experienced it [sic] including me. I talk about some of my own experiences: being pulled over by a cop simply because of my race; being even denied opportunities to serve God because of my race; being denied, in my early days, of even media ministry because of my race. So that’s real and that reality produces a scar and a sensitivity and when something happens that reminds you of that it creates a pain and that pain just doesn’t disappear, because it’s like an abused person, when they see abuse it reminds them of their own abuse or when they were abused earlier in their lives.
At the same time, people on the other side are saying, ‘but don’t we have to still go by the law?’ And the answer there is, yes, too. We have to operate in the laws of our land, the righteous laws of our land, but we must do so in a just way knowing that there is sensitivity, and therefore, we have to be sensitive in how we do it. Now, that means that violence becomes unacceptable because of the law — the law of God and the laws of our nation. To destroy life and property that is not yours, is wrong—even when you are angry.
The Bible allows for anger by the way. The Bible says, ‘be angry but sin not.’ So it makes a distinction between the emotional feelings of anger and the execution of wrath where you are letting that anger overflow to do things that ought not to be done because they are against the law. But at the same time, those who are arguing for the law have to equally say there is a pain here, there is a history here that cannot be ignored and that must be addressed, and it has to be addressed outside of a crisis so you have to bring together righteousness, and justice, in such a way that both are operating simultaneously, until we get our leaders to put both on the table at the same time when there is not a conflict, so that when there is a conflict we are prepared and the leadership in every community is prepared to address it so there will always be a reactionary rather than being part of a solution that has a long span to it.
The Bible says, “When the enemy comes in like a flood I will raise up a standard against him.” So it’s time to raise up a standard of righteous and just standard that will seek proper living under God and proper relationships with people in the name of God. When we put that together as the church, then we will demonstrate we can do what the government can’t do, which will allow government to do what it wants to do, but which will also give testimony to the power and legitimacy of our faith.
I may not have been able to answer all of the questions about who’s right and who’s wrong in Ferguson, but I do know that God has an answer for who’s right and who’s wrong in this racial divide, and it’s time that the Church leads the way in giving it.
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Hello. This is Dr. Tony Evans with the Urban Alternative. I’m coming to you today with a very heavy heart — a heart that’s heavy because of the continuing racial divide plaguing our nation, most recently illustrated in the tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri. The tragedy of a life lost, the tragedy of a city in turmoil, and a tragedy in a country that should be the United States, but sometimes it appears it is becoming more the divided states. Now, we don’t have all the answers to Ferguson, but God does have the answer to our racial divide. And it is time that we take God seriously and His answer seriously, so that we cannot only apply it to Ferguson, but we can apply it to any situation that seeks to illegitimately divide us against what God has in mind when He allowed this great nation to be birthed and when He allowed various races to come here and live here and call America home.
First and foremost, this means that Christians are going to have to take the lead. This problem is beyond government. It means people of good will and of strong faith are going to have to come together across racial and cultural boundaries and realize God’s twin standards. On one side, God calls for law and order. On the other side, God calls for justice. And those are not two mutually exclusive concepts. You must have order in order for communities and society to function properly. But you must have justice in order for communities and society to function fairly. And you bring those two together with people who have the right motivation and the right heart.
We’re going to start with prayer because prayer invokes and invites God into the discussion. I’m not just talking about a quick prayer, “bless this meeting.” I’m talking about pouring out our hearts to the most Holy God who is concerned about what happens in our nation and with the lives of its citizens. That means that the church has to come together and to call on God together, a solemn assembly kind of call, where we reach out to Heaven and say we need you to invade earth.
But it also means that following that prayer must be function. Following the talk with God must be the walk with God. Therefore, we must begin to communicate with each other not nearly because there is a problem but actually when there is no problem, so that when there is a problem, we have already been prepared and trained to address it. Address it how? Address it by already having in place mentors for fatherless children who need parental guidance, who need to see this world of options that are open to them that may not be available to them based on where they live or the money they have. It means equity of opportunity so that people can see that if they apply themselves and if they do it with the right moral standards that the doors of opportunity are open to them. And they need to hear that over and over again so that they do not respond to voices that may be squelching that or may be giving the impression that that is not available to them. It means educational opportunities so people will see through learning that there are opportunities they can take advantage of because their skill base and information base has increased and they don’t have to settle for the lowest common denominator.
Then, there needs to be a moral standard. A moral standard that teaches what’s right and what’s wrong, coming from God, reinforced by family. That’s why families are so critical to what happens, particularly in urban America, and in America, in general. We must strengthen our families if we want to strengthen our society. The saga of a nation is the saga of its families written large. I believe God has real answers and I believe His people can deliver them. But we won’t deliver them in a context of violence; we won’t deliver them in a context of injustice; and we won’t deliver them in a context of lawlessness. But we will deliver them in a context of love. If we can provide a model as the church of what love looks like across racial, culture, and class boundaries, then we will actually give the society something to emulate.
Source: The Urban Alternative
BCNN1 received the recordings from The Urban Alternative and was authorized to run them. The two audio messages were transcribed by a BCNN1 transcriber without the knowledge of The Urban Alternative.