Hello! Are you there? A social awakening is happening outside the walls of your well-constructed edifices. Do you not see it?
Your people are hungry for change, yet you are earnestly trying to return to what once was, instead of embracing what is. In the spirit of returning to a sense of normalcy, you desire to press play on a way of being that God interrupted some 18 months.
Instead of embracing the change—the stop—you desire to re-start something that you believe was paused temporarily. Church, let us not press play on something God has called us to stop. It begs the question, how can we go through something so unexpected, life-altering, and significant, yet still miss the opportune moment that is before us.
Almost 15 months ago, as a nation, and as a church, we marched and cried in response to the unjust murder of another unarmed black man by police. People from all walks of life – black, brown, blue, and white, stood together in unison, in opposition to what they saw on that videotape in those harrowing 8 minutes and 46 seconds. As a nation and church, we were shocked, unsettled, and embarrassed. It seemed that real change had finally come. We were so fortunate to see this moment unfold before our eyes, the pivotal moment that even seemed to quell the doubts of those who fervently denied the current existence of systems of oppression. The tides were changing, the calls for justice were rising, the movement was making progress. The church was speaking. But not for long.
As I pen this letter some 18 months after the global pandemic wreaked havoc on our former way of life, I can not help but notice the calls for returning to the former ways of life. Most churches are returning to their physical locations to reconstruct a process that was deconstructed over a year ago. To continue a cycle that was interrupted. To return to a state of comfort and familiarity. This state of familiarity still includes this ubiquitous silence on issues of injustice that permeated church spaces across this nation in the past.
As a black millenial in this country, it is hard to recollect a time in recent years where the court of public opinion seemed to share a consensus of moral outrage over the death of an unarmed black person.
For many years, I have scrolled timelines and news feeds after the perpetual and senseless murders of unarmed black and brown people, to find unmerited debates surrounding the humanity of the victims. These comment threads are oftentimes filled with people who deem the victims of police brutality as unworthy, irredeemable, and deserving of their fate, simply because they had a criminal past. The crux of these arguments are the literal antithesis of the teachings of Christ Jesus, which provide clear instructions to love thy neighbor as thyself and not to judge.
All the while, churches across the country continued to remain silent, to avoid ruffling feathers. Their newsfeeds, void of any evidence of the current events that are directly affecting the people they are called to serve. Too afraid to speak on topics that are controversial, in an effort to maintain the status quo and to not offend anyone.
But the bible does not call us to practice a faith that is comfortable or timid. The Bible declares in Acts 28:31 that Paul went around “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.”
The Lord is calling us to do more! Church, where are you? Where is your voice? Your people are looking to you to lead the way forward in the fight for justice. But they cannot find you. Your voice is silent in the name of not being too controversial or too political.
Is it worth it? Are we willing to lose souls coming to Christ, in the name of protecting our image, our ministry, our brands?
There once was a time where the church was at the forefront of social change. It once held the flame of hope toward a more just society. There was a time when the church was an influencer of culture, instead of being influenced by culture.
Church, the hearts and minds of those whom you cherished so deeply have shifted their attention elsewhere due to your silence on issues of systemic injustice and racial equity.
It is time to stand up and take back your rightful place in the fight for biblical justice and oneness. It is time to lie down political allegiances and pledge our allegiance to the teachings of the true, almighty, and just God.
The Bible says, “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?” (Micah 6:8).
So I ask you once again, is it worth it?
The silence and the willingness to ignore the cries of the oppressed – is it worth it?
We all hope for more racial equity and social justice but it will not happen until we come together as the body of Christ. It will not happen until we are willing to lie down our titles, our positions, for our own selfish gain, but instead use them to influence systems and power structures.
The Bible declares in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Church, are you called by His name?
Antwan Steele is a native of Nashville, TN. He has served as a thought leader to churches, nonprofits, and technology startups across the country. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Religion & Corporate Strategy from Vanderbilt University and Master of Divinity from Harvard University. Antwan is the Executive Director of Faith & Prejudice, a movement of Christians who are determined to confront and dismantle racism in America once and for all. Visit us at www.faithandprejudice.com and on all social platforms.