This past week has been a rough ride for America. There is no single perspective that captures all the emotion and tension that exists in our lives. I've been able to speak to several of you this week listening and praying. On Sunday's Facebook Live Stream Torry McCoy and I sat together as I read a letter concerning the death of George Floyd and so many others. I did not write the letter but read it because it expressed well what has been in my heart,
(1) George Floyd was made in the image of God and as such is a person of utmost value (see Psalm 139:13-14; Genesis 1:27). (2) What happened to George is an affront to God because George's status as an image-bearer was not respected. (3) We, as the Church, should lament for the treatment of George Floyd and we should lament with the wider Black community for whom this tragedy awakens memories of their own traumas and the larger history of systematic oppression that still plagues this country. 4) We have hope, not because of our inner conviction or actions, but because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ that reconciles humanity and humans to each other.
The hope of the Church, our hope, is because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5:5). The Holy Spirit is a deposit that's been given to us by our Heavenly Father as a promise of things to come (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:14), above all, the return of Jesus Christ as all things are redeemed on heaven and on earth (Romans 8:11; Colossians 1:20; Revelation 21:5). This hope is not a spirit only hope but one that takes on flesh as our church and churches become places where our life together as disciples demonstrates the power of the gospel to bring together the nations of the earth (Revelation 7:9). Such work cannot be carried out unless we (1) educate ourselves and our church(es) with a biblical and theological framework to face the problems of our day, (2) commit to partnering with like-minded churches in the work of justice and reconciliation.
As a pastor and ordained minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I commit myself to stand alongside those in the wider Black community to contend for a just society, not as some attempt to transform American into the kingdom of God, but as a manifestation of neighborly love and bearing one another's burdens and so fulfilling the law of Christ. I am speaking in specifics here in answer to the disproportionate harm to ethnic minorities in our country. I find this focus by receiving Jesus' general direction to love as I have loved you (John 15:12). The burden of neighborly love is answered in specifics. May I be found to be like the Samaritan, and not like the priest or the Levite, crossing the street to minister to the one who was hurting (Luke 10:25-37). As Jesus told the expert of the law regarding the Samaritan, "Go and do likewise."
I'm asking each of you to join me in prayer, asking Almighty God to grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression, to help us use our freedom rightly in the establishment of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of God's holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Grace and peace, Pastor Scott Crowder
June 2, 2020
// Painting is by Vincent van Gogh, 1853-1890. Good Samaritan, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville