Social justice. Marxism. Critical race theory. Liberalism. Wokeness. Progressivisim.
These are labels some have applied in the context of our current social climate, signifying perspectives that are anti-gospel. These labels are often affixed with the intent to discredit cries for racial justice.
I’m not an expert or a scholar. I don’t fully comprehend these labels and theories, and I’m unwilling to debate about them, so please move on if that’s the kind of thing you’re looking for.
One thing I can say, however, is that the way these labels are being used sounds a lot like making excuses.
Until my dying breath, by God’s grace, I will never say that the ultimate cure for the sins of racism and murder and every other kind of oppression and sin on the face of the planet isn’t the gospel. It is.
And one day we’ll be living under the perfectly just Judge who will make all things perfectly right, not according to your standards or mine, but according to absolute, sheer, stunning perfection.
And I cannot wait for that Day.
But that Day is not here yet. And until that Day, saying things like, “We don’t have a skin problem. We have a sin problem (and oh, by the way, it doesn’t happen to be my sin problem. I’m not a racist),” seems a lot like shrugging our shoulders and copping out.
Shouting things like, “All lives matter!” seems a lot like plugging our ears and refusing to hear the pain of those who are pleading with us to notice that too many in our society treat them as though they don’t matter.
It seems like an excuse to keep on not doing anything about the very real ways injustices continue to occur.
When I hear the cries of dark-skinned brothers and sisters in Christ who are telling me they are suffering in our culture and that they’ve been suffering for decades, I can’t for the life of me turn away.
Even more, I can’t bear to meet their cries with a label or a theory or a complicated explanation for why their suffering doesn’t really exist or why it’s not for the reasons they think.
The Heart of the Matter & One Burning Question
God is perfectly just. I am not, and I never will be. I could never in a million years parse out all the reasons why some groups are disadvantaged in our culture. It’s far beyond my ability to comprehend.
That doesn’t mean I don’t keep learning and keep trying to grow, but it does mean I’m going to err and I’m going to keep on erring despite my best attempts to the contrary.
So the question for me has become, “Which side am I going to err on?”
If there really is no such thing as systemic racism in America in 2020 and no lingering impact from racism in times past, then saying otherwise would make me wrong, and maybe even duped. Call me gullible, perhaps.
I can handle that. I’m sure I’m wrong about a lot of things, and while I don’t relish it, I also don’t fear adding one more thing to the list.
But I shudder, and I mean shudder, to think of erring on the other side. Because if there is in fact and in truth some degree of racial injustice occurring, and I have refused to hear and refused to see, clinging instead to labels and theories while refusing compassion and declining to listen and lament and love…
well, that puts me square against God Himself.
The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
When it comes down to it, I can’t bear the thought of erring in that direction.
Because the truth is, I can hold onto the gospel and still see injustice in our society.
I can hold onto the gospel and still believe those who say they’re hurting.
I can hold onto the gospel and still think changes should be made.
I can hold onto the gospel and still seek justice until the perfectly just Judge comes to rule and reign forever.
Not only I can, but I must.
Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.