Jeff Christopherson on a Kingdom Response to Racism on Our Watch


I couldn’t actually watch it.

To me, there’s no other way to describe the recently released video of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. For most of the world, the release of this footage was the first we had heard of the death of Arbery—a 25-year old African American man. His killers? A white man and his son, wielding a shotgun and a .357 magnum handgun, seemingly acting as a self-proclaimed neighborhood posse.

In broad daylight, Ahmaud bled out on a suburban street.


Seemingly zero. Walking free and uncharged for almost ten weeks, they rested comfortably in their homes. It appeared from the outside that the law was firmly on their side. Only until public pressure mounted from a released video that recorded the horrific event were charges ever leveled.

The thing is, this is not a historical account of life in the Jim Crow past. These are today’s headlines. Its today’s breaking news, eerily reminiscent of the historical fate so many had endured; unjustly beaten and murdered as if they were meaningless beings. Charges seldom ever brought forward.

Nothing, it seems, has changed.

Poignant outcries follow each subsequent wave of tragedy as Christians grapple with how best to respond, lament, mourn, and even rage against the overt brokenness of the world around us. In the coming weeks, details will emerge that will try to color our limited view of what happened, yet nuanced details will not change one unalterable reality.

It’s a reality common to neighborhoods throughout North America. On our watch, racism and hatred are evil bearing their natural fruit in even the most supposedly manicured neighborhoods.

And so, it would seem, that emotion-filled outcries the day-after, simply are not enough. We can decry injustice with clenched fists held high, yet fail to act as the salt-infusing, light-filling presence of Christ’s body in this world. Lament, as we should, but there must be more. We know there must be more. But what? What is a Kingdom response? What should Kingdom people do in the face of mounting racism?

Call Evil What It Is

This heinous event reveals the nature of sin as it plays itself out without restraint. To call such actions evil is true and right, but it isn’t true and right enough. Racist killings are an affront to a holy God. They are an attack on the imago Dei intrinsic to all humanity. Naming evil “sin” places the perpetrator in the hands of the rightful Arbitrator of justice; Almighty God Himself.

First and foremost, these actions are done Coram Deo, before the face of God. We can, in fact we must, trust His providential control to judge the world in perfect justice. By naming evil, sin, we acknowledge that the only hope for lasting change is found in a heart transformed by the grace found in the good news of Jesus Christ.

Speak Courageously Against Injustice

To complicate this simple issue, we now have a deceptive way of silencing the voices of those who speak against racism. We marginalize them too and brand them as theological liberals. We label them as one-dimensional social justice warriors whose singular concern it is to right systematic forms of oppression.

The fear of such a stigma being issued from the cutting barbs of angry bloggers has caused many of us to remain silent. And so, we lay low. But as in other seasons in history, our silence speaks loudly—both in this generation and the ones to come.

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Source: Christianity Today