This is the crucial moment in history when we all must ask ourselves the imperative question, "What would Jesus do?"
Perhaps we should also ask of ourselves these follow-up questions:
—"How would Jesus treat someone whose skin was a different color?"
—"How would Jesus respond to an innocent man's death?"
—"What wisdom would Jesus give to confused and anxious politicians?"
—"What would Jesus offer to a world in social isolation and in deep division?"
I must tell you that I long to feel the pain of my black brothers and sisters.
I want to know what George Floyd's mother feels and what Ahmaud Arbery's mother feels. I want to cry with them, to dry their tears, to take them a meal and to just sit in quiet pain with both of those dear, dear mothers.
I want to extend compassion and understanding to them and I also want to give them the fire of my heart.
Compassion is an interesting word, is it not? It literally means "with passion" or "passion that comes along beside of". My definition of the word "compassion" is slightly different but no less true; compassion, to me, means "the fire of my heart."
Although I might never be able to understand the pain of my black brothers and sisters, I am still able to grieve with them, fight for them and pray with them. Today I am troubled, I am sobered and I am finally moved to speak up.
Would you join me as I strive to build a bridge toward those who have felt disenfranchised, been taken advantage of and marginalized through all of American history?
First of all, check in with your black friends, neighbors, co-workers, former classmates and family members. Let them know that you honor them as human beings and that you support them as friends. Don't make the conversation about you and your feelings but listen to their pain.
The second thing you and I both need to do is to learn; we desperately need to educate ourselves. We need to learn more about racism and oppression in America. I am reading several books that are making me uncomfortable right now concerning the problem of racism in America.
I am reading news articles and editorials that are making me weep and stirring up a greater compassion in me. I pray that the fire of my heart is lit as I read these books.
The third thing we need to do to build this long overdue bridge is to take personal responsibility for teaching the next generation how to love completely, how to celebrate friendship and how to bestow kindness.
It is imperative that we teach our children and our grandchildren to live with compassion and with benevolence. Please take the time to talk to your children about what it means to be kind to someone who looks differently than you do.
Remind your children and grandchildren often that we don't bully anyone at any time in any place! And not only that, we, as Christ-followers, stick up for those who are bullied and stand beside them in friendship.
As you endeavor to teach your children the importance of honoring others, you may want to consider reading biographies to your children of black men and women who accomplished great things at their moment in history.
Another valuable activity in which you can participate is to watch movies with your children followed by discussion about what the movie taught. Movies that are appropriate and meaningful for most ages are: Remember the Titans, Hidden Figures, Amazing Grace and Harriet.
And finally, as believers in Christ, we need to pray and to ask ourselves the inevitable question, "What would Jesus do?" I believe that it is not just buildings that are burning but it is also hearts that are burning. Hearts are burning with anger, hatred, fear and retribution.
Hearts have been set ablaze with the dry kindling of thousands of instances of racism and injustice that have happened throughout history. There is great pain at the reality of what we see happening currently in America but there is a greater, more searing pain at the birthplace of these actions.
We need to pray that the fire of the Holy Spirit, which is the fire of Pentecost, will be greater within us than are the fires that are burning in America.
"And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, being distributed and resting on each of them" (Acts 2:3).
When the disciples lived during the days of the early church, they were known as the men who "turned the world upside down." (Acts 17:6) Wouldn't that be a powerful identification for us as the disciples of Christ at this moment in history? Wouldn't you love to be part of the generation who turned the world of racism, of prejudice and of anger upside down?
My heart is on fire with passion and with the power of the Holy Spirit. I will lean into that fire and allow it to burn away the dross, the prejudice and the lack of care that has been allowed to remain in my heart. I will allow the fire to give me the power that the disciples had at their moment in history.
The fire of the Holy Spirit will change the world; it will make a lasting difference and will make us more holy. The fire of the Holy Spirit will make us more like Jesus so we would truly know what He would do.
Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical, biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. Carol has written 11 books, including Significant, StormProof and Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming.
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