By Jonathan David Faulkner
In a culture of instant gratification we can have almost anything we want. Need food quick? There’s a burrito buggy down the street, or you can order out and have it at your door in 20 to 30 minutes. Need something overnight, pay a little extra and it will be shipped to you overnight. Need to talk to someone? Smart Phones, want to see their face? Skype or Face-Time come with your phone. What a world we live in where all our needs can be met within a few minutes. Unless the Elevator is down for repairs…then we have #Firstworldproblems…which of course, tend to not be problems at all. We are privileged to live in such a world, one that we take for granted everyday and one that could one day be stripped from us.
Unfortunately when you are used to getting everything just when you want it can be easy to think it always works that way 100% of the time. We get lulled to sleep or into a false sense of security and then when something happens outside of our own spheres of influence we shout about it on social media and then go about ignoring everything about it. We become desensitized: “Everything will work itself out, we do not need to step in, I can stay in my comfort zone. Someone else will care, man is good, we can change this.” Then go back to doing whatever we were doing before time stopped, unchanged, expecting the world to find Justice and for Blacks and Whites to be reconciled overnight. Looking for a Star-Trek-like Utopia where no one is hungry and all men are equal and our problems are all solved.
We want instant Reconciliation and Instant Justice, but the truth is we will never have either.
There is no such thing as “Instant Reconciliation” and true Justice is never “Instant” you will not have a reconciled, just society overnight, it will never happen. Stop praying for it and to my social justice warrior readers, get over it.
What do I mean? Consider this week’s biggest headlines. The tragic deaths of Philando Castle and Alton Sterling, African-American males who were victims of Fatal Police Shootings in Baton Rouge LO and Falcon Heights MN in the last 72 hours. Highlighted in these now all too common incidents is the deep racial divide and mistrust between cops and the communities they serve. I do not know the details of these shootings, I have not watched either video, just reading the stories and response from the White House is heartbreaking enough.
Lay on top of that the 80+ people murdered in Chicago in a week and attacks by ISIS in Istanbul and Baghdad. Leading to hashtages like #BLM and #Endtheviolencenow and so on and so forth showing how much people want these things to end. I have also read the usual rants about giving up privilege (some of which were very good) and comfort and actually seeking to make a difference from some people who are going to make a difference and from others who were not. I have seen the ignorant comments of people who think they know but do not, I have seen it all once again.
And I do grieve with my black brothers and sisters; I do grieve with the black community and pray for them. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ; I am no better or worse than they are, in fact it seems odd to me to even use the word “They” when talking about other members of the body of Christ because we all mourn together and all have joy as one. But I digress.
I want justice, I want reconciliation, I want community, I want there to be peace. I genuinely want those things but they will not come overnight. They take work, constant, consistent and back-breaking work. They require a great deal of discomfort and discontent and they require us to actually be vessels of such things. Yes, us Christians. If you do not believe me go read Matthew 5, Read Romans (the whole book), read Colossians. Go into the Old Testament and read Malachi and Zechariah, Isaiah and the Psalms. Then, ask the God who inspired such words to work within you to give you His righteousness.
Yes, righteousness, because without God’s righteousness that comes from God’s spirit we will never be reconciled to one another and we will never have a just society. You cannot have a just society without first having a righteous society. Justice and Righteousness go hand in hand, it would seem that Justice flows from Righteousness.
But this is not a theological Treatise; this is practical, fist to the pavement. So once you’ve read the Bible and sought God’s Righteousness learn to live that out as a Just individual who “Rejoice(s) with those who rejoice and mourn(s) with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). Be a peacemaker, in your local community, in your schools and in your towns, do away with hatred for another, both those who believe and who do not believe. Seek to be meek and pure in heart, letting anger burn for that which angers God (but without sinning) and encouraging those around you to do better. Encouraging your church to live righteously and to be a local body of peacemakers who are Christ-Like and who no one can bring a charge against. Then become a church that encourages these qualities in your community so that your community can encourage them in your city and from your city to your state to your region and to your nation.
You want true and lasting reconciliation? You want true and lasting Justice? As Jesus said in his summation of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6; “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteous and all these things shall be added to you” (Mat 6:33). Just as Israel was meant to be a righteous society, so are the Children of God.
This is a slow process that requires generations of faithful teaching, passing down the important of these things to the next generation. Slow because there is now generations of bitterness and rage in both communities that will have to be addressed Forgiving when it is necessary and a lot of hard work and self-abandonment. For all of us to give up anger or hatred or privilege or whatever it may be that is keeping us on opposite sides of the line. To humbly approach each other in love and with grace and say; “you are my brother, you are my sister, and I love you, I am sorry for any wrongs I have committed against you, please forgive me and let us walk in love.”
We have had an example of that kind of humility, or did you forget? When a Black Church in South Carolina lost nine members to gunman Dylan Roof last year and chose to go before him and forgive him for taking those nine precious lives from their presence.
It is time for the church to be the church, to stop being silent and being given to inactivity or shouting and demanding justice now. It is time for us to follow the model set out for us in scripture. It is time to join hands once again and guard each man’s dignity while we preserve each man’s pride. Like the old hymn it is time for the world to truly know we are Christians by our love and the only way to do that is through righteousness given by the Spirit of God.
Without God we will fail in this journey, without His divine providence and sovereign Lordship we will never accomplish this. We have tried our own way, maybe it is time to try Gods. It will not happen overnight, but with a lot of work and with a lot of patience and prayer and trust and healing and forgiving and love it will happen. In God’s timing and by His way; this is far superior to our own.
Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry