“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, NIV)
News of the killing of George Floyd spread quickly around the world last week. Pastors and church leaders everywhere spoke out to condemn the actions of the Minneapolis police officer who pinned George’s neck to the ground with his knee.
The video cannot be viewed without disgust and the officer has been charged with third-degree murder, but as with the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, along with an endless list of others whom we have forgotten, the justice system did not appear to act until public outcry reached a crescendo.
In the past, the outcry and indignation seemed to last for only a short time before we became concerned with other matters. Will this time be any different? It is not that we do not care or that we are unsympathetic; we are most likely preoccupied with things that matter more to us. Will this time be any different? This time we must remember and demand justice or it will expose a callous indifference that will intensify the division.
In Paul’s charge to us to “carry each other’s burdens,” we must begin by acknowledging that others carry burdens different from our own. Those who advocate for a “colorblind society,” seem to ignore the fact that we are not on the same level playing field. Some of us have benefited from privileges that are not accessible to others and it is obvious that we have not yet reached the hope of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
It is impossible to “carry each other’s burdens” unless we make the effort to learn what those burdens may be and there is no quick fix that will make that happen. The racial problems dividing us are the result of centuries of abuse and exploitation and it will take time to heal the deep wounds, but it is imperative that we make it a priority of the highest importance.
To “carry each other’s burdens” we must be sensitive and listen to the heart cry of the oppressed. The Psalmist said, “Look to the right and see! No one cares about me. I have nowhere to run; no one is concerned about my life.” (Psalm 142:4, NET) At this time there should be no hesitation for us to stand up and declare, “BLACK LIVES MATTER.”
Paul reminds us that we have been charged with “the ministry of reconciliation.” How can we expect to reconcile people to God, if we are not reconciled to our brothers and sisters in Christ whose skin colors are different? Churches and other ministries should immediately, if they have not done so already, revise their mission, vision, and core value statements to include “racial reconciliation.” Then we must follow through and live up to them.
Our approaches to “racial reconciliation” will be different, but we must hold each other accountable for our credibility, but also because the effectiveness of our witness before the world will be impotent if we do not follow through on our commitments. Unity is not achieved solely through equality, but through our willingness to “carry each other’s burdens.”
If we make racial reconciliation a priority, not only will the result be better relationships and understanding, it is also a key to releasing revival and a tremendous harvest for the kingdom of God. “Learn to do what is right! Promote justice! Give the oppressed reason to celebrate!” (Isaiah 1:17, NET)
Listen to the words of Jesus: “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” (John 17:21, NLT) A demonstration of unity will be more effective in reaching the world for Christ than all the sermons, books, and videos combined.
It is not difficult to make public statements of outrage, disgust, and support when confronted with injustice, but it requires diligence and intentionality to address the problem of racism in this country. Before we say too much we should really learn and understand. We must proceed with humility, thoughtfulness, and prayer as we “carry each other’s burdens.”