As members of the sacred body of Christ, we grieve and are deeply troubled over the brokenness of our society tragically manifest in the unjust treatment of African Americans in our communities. Any act of unjust, violent treatment of our African American brothers or sisters by law enforcement is unacceptable and intolerable.
We grieve that individuals with whom we share this sacred life have to fight to have their voices heard. As Christ’s Body, we have utterly failed when we fail to listen to the voice of the marginalized as we follow the way of Jesus, the first among the marginalized.
So, where do we go from here? As an extension of the church, what does it mean for the WBS community to bring redemption and renewal to the marginalized?
First, it is crucial that we remember who we are. We affirm once again—at precisely this moment—that as members of the WBS community and as the body of Christ, we enthusiastically and unwaveringly affirm the Bible’s teaching that:
- every person is an image-bearer of God uniquely made in the image of the holy triune Creator (Gen. 1:27);
- every human being has intrinsic value and equal worth (Matt 6:26);
- life is sacred and not to be violated (Ex. 20:13);
- sins, including criminal acts, against humanity are crimes against the Holy Trinity (Ps. 51:1).
These affirmations are central to the Christian worldview because of the sacredness of human persons that extends from the Triune God himself.
At WBS, we often speak of the Trinity as unity (one) in diversity (three). So, too, is creation as humankind in his image. We are all image-bearers, spanning all skin color. Furthermore, our racial and ethnic diversity are also an expression of God’s glory and majesty, those differences a part of that unique fabric of God’s created order that he called “good.”
We reflect the glory of the Trinity when we embrace, share, and celebrate both our unity as divine image-bearers and our diversity as African Americans, Haitians, Jamaicans, Caucasians, Hispanics, Asians—whatever our tribe. We look forward to the day when the multitude of every tribe, people, and language will worship God together in his new creation (Rev. 7:9). This is precisely why we are so deeply grieved and disturbed over the continual injustices of our brothers and sisters in the African American community.
Second, we are challenged to live up to the calling that we have received. The church is the ecclesia, the called-out ones. We are called out as redeemed sinners to follow in the way of Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit. We are called to go to the marginalized and oppressed, not merely be welcoming if they come to us. We are called to embrace others different than us with intentionality, living out our purpose as image-bearers. This is revolutionary love. This is the kind of love that turns the world on its head. This is the love of Jesus.
Having recently celebrated Pentecost, we are reminded that in the face of these challenges we have a paraclete, the Spirit of God who comes to us to help us obediently and compassionately love others as Jesus did: deeply, sacrificially, consistently, unconditionally. Jesus will be seen amid this turmoil as the church is faithful to its calling. Now more than ever, the world needs a renewed vision of the King and his kingdom at work redeeming the world in sacrificial love.
We believe that the church offers the only solution for a broken creation. Jesus is the only way. The Gospel is the active ingredient in the medicine that treats the disease of the human heart. If we want to be a part of redeeming and renewing the society around us, we must continually affirm our undivided loyalty to Jesus. We must be filled with the Holy Spirit, allowing God to manifest his presence in the world through our sanctification. As human hearts change, injustice ends. Jesus taught his disciples to pray that his kingdom would come on earth as it was in heaven. God’s kingdom coming to earth begins with God’s kingdom coming into our hearts and minds. May it be so!