By Nate Crew, @MBCSilverSpring Director of Outreach
Over the last few months, several tragedies around the country have raised the nation’s conscious to the racial tension that exists in America. Benjamin Watson, an NFL player for the New Orleans Saints, took to Facebook to share his thoughts in response to the events and Grand Jury decision related to the death of teenager Michael Brown after an altercation with a police officer in Ferguson, MO. Watson addressed this tragedy through a Christian perspective, but also through the lens of personal experience.
As a church, we must remember that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not theoretical but makes an actual difference in our day-to-day life. One of those differences is that in Christ, we are reconciled to God and to one another (2 Corinthians 5:16-21). This has major implications for our behavior.
With that in mind and in light of Watson’s article, here are a couple of opportunities for us as a church to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:10), which we do when we live out the Gospel in such a way that shows it to not only be true but beautiful.
Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
Watson speaks of “bearing the weight of being a minority.” God tells us in Galatians 6:2 to “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” If someone is burdened by holding up a heavy weight, we get under it with them and help to hold it up. On the cross, Christ not only lifted our burden (of sin) but also pushed us out from under it and let it crush Him instead. We adorn the Gospel for all to see when we bear the burdens of others. We can do this by listening, praying, serving and simply by being present.
Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15)
Watson is not alone but expresses the feelings of millions of men and women around the country. One implication of bearing one another’s burdens is that we sympathize and show compassion for the emotional burdens of others. In Romans 12:16 we are told to “live in harmony with one another.” One way that harmony is achieved is by compassionately sympathizing with the pain and prosperity of others regardless of their position. We adorn the Gospel for all to see when we rejoice and weep with one another, especially when we do so across racial, ethnic and cultural lines.
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:5)
Watson speaks of some comments being “not only insensitive but dismissive to the pain of others.” The implication is that we should not speak until we have practiced the previous two commands. If we are bearing one another’s burdens and sympathizing with their emotions, then our speech is more apt to be gracious and seasoned. We adorn the Gospel for all to see when our speech displays the grace and love of Christ.
Here are a few questions for self-reflection in light of the truths above:
- Do I have close relationships with those of other races, cultures and ethnicity so that I am able to know and bear their burdens, to weep and rejoice with them?
- Am I emotionally connected to the painful experiences of others, or am I generally indifferent?
- Have I been more concerned with the facts of the case than the souls of people involved on all sides?
- Is all my speech (even on social media) gracious and seasoned?
As we reflect on our own lives and the wonderful truth of Gospel reconciliation, my prayer is that we become a people who more fully and joyfully “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.”