Responding in Love

As events have unfolded over the past few weeks, like many I have struggled with how to respond. The problems seem hopelessly complicated and, in my world at least, very far away.  In my day-to-day I don’t worry about being pulled over or arrested. I don’t worry about my children not having opportunities because of skin color. I don’t worry about discrimination. Why? Because I’m a part of the majority culture.

As I’ve seen and read all the news and responses and critiques I keep coming back to the question: what can I do? Perhaps it’s best to start with the basics: God calls us to faith-driven obedience in loving him with all that we are and loving our neighbors as much as ourselves. In light of the biblical emphasis on loving others and caring for the marginalized, here are a few ways we can respond in love:

  1. Listen—This is often the hardest part, because others’ struggles are often not my struggles. There is great wisdom is hearing the concerns of others before we jump to conclusions. For a start, check out this article by Shai Linne.
  2. Look for opportunities to love and care—We must learn to be on the lookout for people who are marginalized or in the minority. The reality is we have minorities around us all the time, not just ethnic minorities. Those who are outside the majority will alway struggle to be accepted, valued, and heard. You can’t change that everywhere, but you can change it where you are.
  3. Be willing to think critically about actual solutions—For most of us writing laws and/or making policies isn’t in our job description, but it may be for some (elected officials, community leaders, employers, etc.). Even so, we can ask questions and participate in the process where we have opportunity. You may not feel the need to protest, but you may be able to help improve flaws in our society. What we shouldn’t do is just accept the status quo because it doesn’t negatively impact us. In this regard check out a helpful article in this direction by Denny Burk.
  4. Accept that we will always struggle—Even as we work to address problems in our laws and communities, we must do so with biblically informed expectations. The stubborn fact that we still live with the presence of sin in the world means that there is no ultimate solution outside of Christ.
  5. Hold the sanctification line—No matter what, we must refuse to allow emotions and knee-jerk reactions to justify sinful behavior and attitudes.  This means withholding judgment, it means refusing to engage in violent and illegal rioting, and it means not tearing down others with our speech. Sin breeds sin, and we need to careful here.

In Luke 10 a very religious person asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus prompted him to answer his own question, and he rightly said that he should love God with all that he is and love his neighbor as much as he loves himself. What comes next is brutal:

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

-Luke 10:29, emphasis mine

Jesus proceeded to tell the story of the Good Samaritan, a minority who showed the majority what it means to love your neighbor. I fear the greatest struggle of the majority right now is seeking to justify ourselves rather than love our neighbors.

Published by Ryan Boys

Ryan serves as the Senior Pastor of Green Pond Bible Chapel in Rockaway, New Jersey. He is married with four children.

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