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Proverbs 24:24-25 (NKJV) 24 He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,” Him the people will curse; Nations will abhor him.25 But those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, And a good blessing will come upon them.
Isaiah 1:17-18 (NKJV) 17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. 18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.
Read: Exodus Chapter 32; Verses 1, 19, 26
Exodus 32:26 (NKJV) 26 then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the Lord’s side—come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him.
There is one good thing that has come out of this pandemic that is; there are lines that have been drawn that become ever more succinct. There has been a visible shift in our ways of thinking and our actions have been altered in some cases permanently. I am certain that the church has also been affected by this shift.
As a case in point I had another message prepared for today, but I would feel disingenuous preaching a message while our nation is once again fighting for it’s collective soul. Of course, I am talking about the unrest and protests caused by the senseless death of yet another black man by police officer.
When Trayvon Martin an un-armed 17 year old high school student was killed on February 26, 2012 by George Zimmerman, I thought; ‘Here we go again’. I was relieved when Zimmerman was finally charged with murder, only to be outraged by his acquittal based on Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ defense. Something about that case caused a change in my view of justice in this nation. And that is saying something since I am old enough to have experienced the civil rights movement of the 1960’s.
Fast forward to February 23 this year, and Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was shot and killed by a white man in Brunswick, Georgia. I suppose we never would have known about this had it not been recorded and viewed around the world. Again this father and son team almost pulled this off without even being arrested. Thankfully, people protested until they were finally arrested and charged.
And then ……George Floyd. Here we go again, again.
Now I want to make it clear that these murders are not all that is wrong here, they are symptoms of a virus. The real problem is a lack of justice in our nation. We have become the host for this virus, and it’s spreading rapidly because there is no vaccine, and we are not treating it like the killer that it is.
And another thing. Some of our national leaders are making it much worse. God forbid that I should ever have a fire at my home, but if it ever happened, I have a request. If you must throw something on the fire, please make sure that it is not flammable.
You can’t say ‘Open up the churches’ to please evangelical church people, and then say that the death of George Floyd is a ‘terrible thing; and then say that demonstrators protesting the death of a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck would be ; “greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen”, if they had jumped the fence of the White House. You can’t treat armed protesters saying ‘Open up the Nation’ like national treasures, while treating peaceful protestors like ‘thugs’. Choose a side!
My daughter, (in love), Nicole posted something on her Instagram page this week. Her post was about the killing of George Floyd and how it is affecting her. It’s an excellent read so I will make it available for those who don’t have Instagram, (like me). One line that she wrote shook me to the core. She said; ‘God is not pleased’. Those four words made her post much more than just a rant about equality. Those words made it an indictment against any of us who call ourselves Christians and refuse to take a side on this issue. As Thanos would say, ‘Thank you daughter’!
And that brings me back to Moses and Aaron in our story. Moses goes away into the mountains to talk to God. Apparently he was gone too long for the people’s comfort, so they quickly wrote off his legacy, and decided to start worshiping false gods. In fact they made a false god just for the occasion. God interrupts his meeting with Moses and tells him to go back to the people because they have basically lost their collective minds.
Upon returning, Moses and Joshua his aide could hear noises coming from the camp. The people were singing and dancing. They were worshiping a golden calf as their god. Moses understandably was shall we say, ticked off about this.
Notice that Moses goes to the leadership, Aaron, for answers. (It’s almost as if the people couldn’t help themselves they were so carnal so why bother to even go to them). He asked Aaron; ‘Who made you do this? What is wrong with you? You know better’! Then he demands that the people chose a side. Either you are on God’s side on not. Decide right now. Commit right now!
Understand that Moses had just talked to God. He was in no mood to tolerate a people who tend to celebrate God’s blessings, but have no commitment what so ever about God’s principles. This is kind of how I feel as a pastor during this pandemic. The church of God cannot sing, shout, dance ,speak in tongues, and congratulate ourselves on our ‘prosperity’ while the world around us goes to hell.
This pandemic has revealed inequities, and injustices that have been obvious to some for centuries. Health care, basic needs, living conditions, being treated differently based on skin color. etc. All of these inequities are made worse in and environment where our leaders , and some billionaires and corporations that have fleeced the poor and needy are profiting from the suffering of the people. Add to that unarmed people being killed by those sworn to protect and serve them and we are sitting on a powder keg while playing with matches.
So the question is; ‘Who is on the Lord’s side’? Being on God’s side means doing what you can to call out for justice. If we come out of this pandemic woke towards injustice, and ready to fight for equality, then it might be worth it in the end. I am not suggesting that you resort to violence, I am only saying that we need to choose a side, that is…God’s side.
In my conclusion a few observations:
- Injustice is a moral issue therefore all of us ‘church people’ are obligated to do something.
- Everyone may not be able or willing to protest the way that some are doing in the streets. Do what you can.
- Protesting DOES work. The only reason justice prevailed in some of these cases is that someone said something or did something. There are possibly 1000’s of cases of injustice that go unreported.
- We need to stop supporting racists, corporations, politicians, pastors, etc..with our dollars, and votes. We need to hit them in the pocket-books where it really hurts.
- Speaking of voting, this is an election year….VOTE! If our ancestors can risk their lives voting, surely we can stand in line for a few hours. DO NOT LET PEOPLE STOP YOU FROM EXCERSING YOUR CONSTIUTIONAL RIGHT TO CHOOSE YOUR LEADERS!
- Yes vengeance belongs to God, but everyone has a right to pray, and work for justice.
Bishop Horace Ransom Jr. is the Senior Pastor and Founder of New Covenant Church International in Detroit, Michigan. He is a Jurisdictional Bishop and serves on the Board of Presbytery for the Jabula International Network, North America. Bishop Ransom is an outstanding teacher of the Word of God with a passion for challenging believers to become the best that they can be. Faith, Purpose and the Kingdom of God are frequently the subject matter of his dissertation.