Black Lives Matter to Jesus
For Christ is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.Ephesians 2:14-18
There is a divide occurring within our country over matters of race. In truth, this divide has been around from the foundation of time and continues to this day. Even though tremendous strides have been made in our history to mend this rift, recent events have only exposed new fault lines. So how are we as a church to navigate the Black Lives Matter” movement? There is so much to say to this question and I cannot give justice to the depth of conversation that is occurring at this time. However, I can share a few gospel ideas to help our thinking.
First, Jesus grew up in Nazareth under the oppression and occupation of the Roman government. Jesus’ life did not matter to Pontius Pilate, the soldiers, and others who crucified him. Jesus’ life didn’t even matter to the religious leaders of his people as they participated in his death.
Second, Jesus’ life does matter because he laid down his life to save our lives. He laid down his life to rescue the least, last, lost, and lowest. He laid down his life to end the hostilities between race, gender, nationalism, and everything else that divides. As the apostle Paul tells us, “In Jesus, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female…” (Galatians 3:28). This means that the things that divide will no longer divide in the kingdom. That will truly be a paradise.
Third, black lives matter deeply to Jesus. Jesus knows what it is like to suffer under an oppressive system. Jesus knows what it is like to be killed by law enforcement. Jesus knows what it is like to not be able to breathe. As Christians, we have vocations meant to help change the status quo of the world. When Jesus comes again, and he will make all things new. Until that day, we are called to go about the business of reconciliation.
Fourth, in saying “black lives matter,” we are not saying that other lives do not matter. Quite the opposite. We are lifting up the lives of those who have been most marginalized. In saying that their lives matter, which means all lives matter. You matter to God, and so too does your neighbor.
Finally, all of this points us back to the primary work of the church, namely to proclaim the gospel and administer the sacraments. The best way to change a heart is to share the gospel because the Spirit uses the good news to turn the hearts of stones into hearts of flesh. All of us need to hear the gospel because we have rocky hearts continually. We need to share the gospel because so too does our neighbor. It is when the Spirit gets ahold of us that lasting change can happen.
Jesus cares for all lives. Black lives matter to Jesus. Your life matters to Jesus.