In the last few days, the Christian Post has published some excellent articles on a growing reawakening of Christian people concerning racial issues. This is deeply encouraging, because Gospel-teaching churches must take bold Biblical leadership on the present American racial scene for there to be real progress. The very institutions that remain so embarrassingly segregated on Sunday mornings can become the brightest, exemplary beacons of light for racial justice and reconciliation going forward. This is also a personal passion; racial social justice has been a constant and costly major theme of my life and ministry.
Our president and attorney general seem stuck on the rhetoric and policies of the distant past. For example, they wanted to use the 50-year old voting rights bill to punish some states, based upon 50-year old data, when justice (and the Supreme Court!) requires that public policies and punishments be based on present facts. As intelligent men, and as black men, they should have noticed that so much has changed in 50 years. Similarly, they assisted the ignorant chorus racially profiling the New York Police Department (NYPD) as white and racist, when the NYPD of 2015 is only 51% white and racially integrated at all levels. Even at the tragic July 17, 2014 death of a black man, Eric Garner, during a NYPD arrest on Staten Island, half of the four police officers making the arrest were black. It is easy to appreciate New York City, my town. Justice is on the rise while crime continues to shrink.
These remarkable facts are not hidden, but some of the rhetoric of “civil rights leaders” and of our Mayor Bill de Blasio suggests that they are blind to these facts. And much of the media collaborates, too, because it is easier to dig up an old story than to give full attention to the present. And there is an accurate, palpable public awareness that something is deeply wrong in our world, too, even if many of our leaders and protestors do not define it well.
NYPD officers make mistakes too often, such as in the death of Eric Garner and in situations I have personally witnessed. But for some of our leaders and media to seem to miss the huge progress is phenomenal. What is going on? Is “liberal” ideology so personally “enslaving” that the leaders and media cannot bring themselves to recognize the obvious facts? Or worse, could the senses of some of our leaders be so deeply dulled by their own old political rhetoric that they are truly blind to progress. How else are so many people saying, “It seems as if nothing has changed”? Really?
For Jesus Christ’s church and her leaders, present racial crises create a precious spiritual opportunity, because we are so very often reminded in the Scriptures to pay attention, to “behold” what is happening around us, and to “watch and pray.” Blind faith is dead faith.
Some of the greatest stories in the Bible are based upon people gaining fresh perspective – starting at the simplest level of seeing with their eyes and hearing with their ears. For example, the immediate impetus for Jesus’ appointment of the original twelve Apostles was his eyes seeing accurately and compassionately the conditions of the multitudes, ripe for life-giving spiritual harvest. Jesus immediately urged his followers to pray for the “Lord of the harvest to send laborers,” and then he selected twelve of them to lead the effort, becoming the answer to his harvest prayer.
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SOURCE: The Christian Post
Dr. Paul de Vries is the president of New York Divinity School, and a pastor, speaker and author. Since 2004, he has served on the Board of the National Association of Evangelicals, representing 40 million evangelical Americans.