Over the last several weeks our nation has witnessed what many black Americans have known all along: injustice is real.
Racism is still rampant.
While it may not take on the overt wording of the past, and it may not parade around in white hoods. It is still there and it is still powerful. It finds itself in systems. Systems that were created on the backs on black slaves. Systems that do anything but provide an equal playing field for men and women of color.
Our nation watched in horror as the unjust systems played out on a video for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. White Americans who, even after Ferguson or Baltimore or any number of similar cases, would often try to find a different angle to police brutality of black males could no longer deny it. It was horrific. It was racism at its worst.
Since the death of George Floyd, white Americans have woken up to the reality that these systems must change.
They have woken up to the reality that if systemic change is ever going to take place in law enforcement, or schools, or businesses where white, brown, or black are treated with equal value and dignity then it is incumbent of the white, majority culture to raise its voice against these systems. If change is ever going to take place for the minority culture, the majority culture must raise its voice with it.
The institution that must be the leader in this is the church. The church has been, and will always be, called to give voice to those whose voice is often silenced. The church has been, and will always be, called to stand up for those who are kneeled upon. The church has been, and will always be, called to level the playing field. For there is, the Apostle Paul once wrote, “neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female.” (Gal. 3:28)
The church, not just the black church, but the predominantly white churches that exist in suburbs across America must raise its voice. And many have. It has been so encouraging to see predominantly white churches walk side by side with predominantly black churches declaring together that yes black lives indeed do matter. They always have mattered. And we will fight the systems together that say they do not matter.
This is the gospel. This is the good news that Jesus brought.
Yet some churches still remain silent. Some predominantly white churches, who claim to carry this same gospel, this same good news have yet to even speak on racial issues. Their leadership will tell you, in private conversation, that of course, they are against racism. They will tell you that, of course, they know that their brothers and sisters of color face systemic injustice. But when you ask them why they don’t speak out, they say, “It’s not really what we do. We don’t like to get involved in issues like that. We just preach salvation and keep the main things in front of people.”
But here’s the problem. This is the main thing for God. That’s why in Isaiah he tells his people, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.” (Is. 1:17). If that were not clear enough, he tells his people that if they don’t do this, “I hide my eyes from you: even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood.”
When the predominantly white church fails to speak out, God stops listening to them. Pastors, you don’t have a choice. This is not something to bring to your boards for approval. This doesn’t need to be discussed or finessed so we don’t offend. This is the gospel. This is what we are called to do, even when it is hard.
When we don’t, our hands are full of blood.
About Jason Webb
Jason Webb is a Milwaukee-based entrepreneur and movement leader with extensive experience in establishing, leading, and staffing domestic and international non-profit organizations. He has led multimillion-dollar fundraising campaigns and managed complex budgets. Mr. Webb has worked with Elmbrook Church, Brooklife Church, Nairobi Chapel, James Place, and recently became a Team Manager and Groups Director for Great Lakes Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin.