As a God-fearing African American man and follower of Jesus, I want to take this moment to reflect on the side of George Floyd, we haven’t heard much about. I want to highlight how his faith in Jesus helped give him a new purpose and direction in life. I want to paint a picture of Floyd, a picture formed through my research.
This is important because despite how angry I am about his senseless death, I find comfort knowing that his eternal resting place is in Heaven. I also want to call into action my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to help bring about justice, love, reconciliation, and change through public policy.
A SHINING EXAMPLE
Before Floyd left for Minneapolis in 2018, he became a force in his hometown of Houston by spending decades mentoring young men living in rough areas.
He led outreaches and helped an upcoming ministry secure space on a basketball court for worship services. Floyd knew about the power of God and wanted others to experience it.
That’s why he pleaded with young men in the next generation to put down their guns and stop the violence.
Floyd once said: “To the young men who go out, thinking they’re tough for carrying a gun, come on home, man. One day, it’s gonna be you and God. You’re goin’ up, or you’re goin’ down, you know what I’m sayin’? That’s gonna be it. … My heart hurts.”
TIME FOR THE CHURCH TO RISE UP
It’s time for the Body of Christ to ask the question, “What would Jesus do during times like these?” We cannot forget that Jesus, the Savior, came as a marginalized, oppressed Jew. He came as an Israelite, a Palestinian, brown-skinned human being.
The main ways in which Jesus declared and demonstrated the gospel that the kingdom of God is near were among the most vulnerable in the society that He navigated. Jesus going to Samaria in John chapter four is an excellent example of that.
It’s not just that He went. It’s how He went. Jesus looks up at a marginalized outcast woman, who was despised by the religious leaders and asked her for a drink. If we see that Jesus can do this, it is time for the church to sit at the well with African Americans and ask for a drink.
That would make a significant and transformative difference as we attempt to navigate the issue of race and find solutions.
We have to stop looking at the Body of Christ as the white church and black church or the white evangelicals and black evangelicals. We have to stop letting pews and political views cause division.
For this to happen, it is incumbent for the Body of Christ to be willing to take a drink – to receive the pain, the grief, the stories, the experiences of African Americans, and gain a fundamental understanding of how the gospel emerges among the suffering and empowers those at the bottom of the social structure.
There has to be a more humble posture of receiving and learning in the Body of Christ. There must be a willingness to hear terms like ‘white supremacy,’ ‘white privilege,’ and white nationalism.
There must be a heart to understand the impact that not only those words but also the actions behind those words, have had and continue to have on African Americans without getting offended, becoming offensive, or walking away from the table.
In the name of Jesus Christ, in whose name we worship, we as the Body of Christ must say “no more.” We must call for change and demand justice. We must be the change we say we want. We must join with the prophet Amos to “seek good and not evil,” to “hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate” (5:14-15)