Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. Psalm 85
We don’t get to choose the scene of our own sacrifice. Oswald Chambers
Oswald Chambers spoke a hard truth in his classic devotional My Utmost for His Highest: “We don’t get to choose the scene of our own sacrifice.”
I’d like to venture an interpretation and application of Chambers’ claim as it relates to the issue of police reform and Black Lives Matter.
I know many white people are struggling to reconcile their growing commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement with their appreciation and concern for the police. Bear with me, and I will walk us to a piece of spiritual wisdom that might help with this tension.
First the meaning of Chambers’ statement: Chambers was suggesting that people enjoy laying down their lives for certain causes. Sometimes a person or group feels called to a hard task and is willing to suffer greatly to complete the task or succeed at some mission or noble vocation. And sometimes our sacrificial streak aligns perfectly with our opportunities to complete the mission we we have in mind; but, quite often it does not. Quite often, while we have a hankering to lay down our lives for one thing, Life/God lead us to a frightening scene of painful sacrifice, which is not of our own choosing and beyond imagination.
We see this dynamic in the life of Christ Jesus, during a conversation with the Father the night before his crucifixion. Jesus asked the Father to “let this cup pass from me.” Brutal lynching was not something Jesus was looking for—even to save the world. Rather, this type of death came to Jesus in a most unwelcome way. We don’t get to choose the scene of our own sacrifice.
There is a hard scene of sacrifice (or “cup”) which has come to the community of law enforcement in this nation. Few people want to see the whole law enforcement community drinking a “cup” of criticism, blame, defunding or dismantling. People care about the police. As a result, many people are afraid to stand on the rock of racial righteousness and proclaim “black lives matter” for fear of harming the institution of law enforcement and/or disheartening the officers who have chosen this sacrificial career.
But we don’t get to choose the scene of our own sacrifice—not even the police. Enslaved Africans didn’t get to choose then and the police force doesn’t get to choose now. There will be a dreadful swim through dark waters.
This is a strange moment for white America—one we have been avoiding for centuries.
The path to racial righteousness and societal wholeness will lead us into sacrifice beyond imagination. There are no rails of fairness within this ordeal to ensure that only racially violent officers are criticized. All officers will be part of this reckoning. All precincts will sacrifice. And Americans who stand up for black lives will suffer alongside. I’ve never met a person or group who wants to go through the valley of the shadow in order to be healed and whole.
Wholeness is not about being right. Wholeness is not perfection. Wholeness is process. We each must choose our own imperfect path to wholeness. If you choose to join an imperfect movement called Black Lives Matter, it does not mean you’ve chosen against the police. Anyone who tells you that is playing you.
Here are three spiritual practices that will be part of our journey to wholeness.
- Practice activism and enter the arena of racial justice— accepting that there will be pain for the police and everyone who has enjoyed police protection over the centuries. It’s not your job to spare everyone’s feelings. You can’t.
- Practice empathy. We’ve all be in a position where we were handed a “cup” of punishment for the sin of someone else. Jesus was. How can you draw on your painful experience and extend understanding and compassion to the police as they face the inevitable pain of reckoning and reform.
- Practice non-judgment. Show mercy to our black siblings who have been asking for our mercy for centuries. Show mercy to the police who are being led to an unwelcome scene of painful sacrifice.
And look up! Read Psalm 85 and anticipate the peace, love and righteousness that flow from the heart of God to God’s faithful children.
Rest well, Katie
7 thoughts on “Racial Righteousness”
This is one side of the story. A very limited view. Maybe you should listen to Larry Elder for the bigger picture. That doesn’t eliminate compassion for hurting people. Just gives you the factual, rational side of all of this. And I believe we have a big problem with police brutality towards blacks and whites. I have personally experienced it and know other white people who have. That bullying attitude among some police is what I believe is the systemic problem and needs to be addressed. I do not believe that 99% of police officers are “good”. I think it might be 80/20. We need much better training, a whole new criminal justice philosophy, and get rid of the 20%. Calling all of this racism is not targeting the real issue, although racism exists, obviously. Google Tony Timpa, a mentally ill man in his 30’s, killed in a similar way as George Floyd. Police body cam videos. Dallas police department. No one arrested or lost jobs. The officers are seen laughing and mocking him while he died. It’s so hard to believe that I tried to fact check it. There are other black voices that need to be heard right now. But it seems to be all about politics. So, listen to BLM yes, but many don’t or won’t listen to blacks who have a different point of view.
Thank you Katie for your concern with racial righteousness. I agree It’s Susan that it would be beneficial to also research a more conservative platform of Larry Elder, Allen West, Dr Ben Carson or a Candice Owens before walking us to a piece of spiritual wisdom. I agree it’s you that the BLM is an imperfect movement and I believe that it is funded by agenda driven donors. If black lives mattered to BLM, they would be protesting school reform and the 100s of thousands of black babies aborted each year, as the PP are strategically placed in black neighborhoods. They would be concerned about Fatherless black homes and looking to mentor black children without a dad in the home. They would Be lifting blacks up instead of inciting racist language, violence giant their on and looking to dissemble the police dept.
I had an opportunity to take a citizen police academy class and my eyes were opened to a fraction of what police officers deal with on a day to day basis. From the bomb, drug and gang task force. Role playing traffic stops and simulated crime scenes. I without a doubt would have shot a grandmother or teen without time to add bias from the split second decisions the simulated scenarios that they make in real life on a daily basis. If you look at the numbers of whites and killed by police and then look at number of police killed 2019, 9 blacks, 27 whites, and 89 officers. Yes there are corrupt people of ALL walks of life and professions.
No we do not need to choose between the BLM or law enforcement. We can chose not to take the racist political narrative and chose instead to lift our brothers and sisters up and encourage them. Even as MLK, “returning violence for violence only multiplies violence, adding a deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness only love can do that, hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that”
Auto correct corrections from above,
violent giant there on- *Violent riots on their own
I’m very saddened by Ryan’s message of cowering to the Larimer county government. Katie’s message of degrading the police was unacceptable. We will be moving on to another church. We certainly wish you all the best. Love you all.
Katie, Please watch this pastor
Can we open the church for 24/7 prayer for the human race? Please don’t encourage us to protest in Greeley and Fort Collins and have the church closed for social distancing and encourage us to stay home even after July 2nd. Because right now I’m feeling like I’m being played for a political addenda and not fighting against the real slaveholder, the enemy.
We have been faithful members of this church. Financially supporting our church. However, we can no longer do this.
Friends, I will keep studying and learning on the topic of racial justice. I can’t think of anything more important I could do with my mind during this important time.