I was numb when I first heard the news.
An unarmed black man, 46-year-old George Floyd, was killed while in police custody on May 25. Accused of trying to use counterfeit money when buying cigarettes at a deli, he was pinned under the knee of Officer Derek Chauvin, unable to breathe.
Just a few weeks prior, our nation had mourned the death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot dead while jogging in a Georgia neighborhood on Feb. 23, but the video footage didn’t become widespread until early May.
We signed petitions, we called our elected officials, and we commemorated his 25th birthday on May 8 with a 2.23 mile jog. Then we moved on as if we had somehow solved the problem. How did we let that happen?
How could I let my heart grow indifferent so quickly?
Start with the heart
Scripture tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV).
Original sin has so tainted our hearts that we can look at a fellow member of the human family, a person made in the image of God, and betray them as means to our own ends.
Racism is one of the most destructive expressions of the sin that dwells within the heart of all people and even the heart of a nation. And yet, we believe that change is possible. Is it naive to hope for a better future?
Not when we turn to the highest power in the universe.
God is in the business of changing hearts, and the words he spoke to the nation of Israel in 6th century BC hold true today: “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart” (Ezekiel 36:26 NLT).
Blind eyes open
From its inception even to this day, our nation’s history is wrought with subjugation based on race. Laws have been changed and culture has shifted, but the roots of racism are deep.
We can’t repent unless we acknowledge what we’ve done wrong. We must ask for eyes to see how we are complicit. You may not have spilled any blood. But did you turn a blind eye? Did you shrink back in fear? Did you forget that justice is one of God’s core attributes?
Let’s get on our knees and just stay there. We repent of pride, silence, ignorance and unwillingness to hear the cause of our brothers and sisters. Officers and civilians alike have bowed their hands and hearts in the public square to pray, asking for forgiveness and the courage to defend the oppressed. It’s just as important to do so in private.
When it comes to conversations about race, we are given a chance to submit to one another in love and hear the experiences of someone who is not like us. We cannot approach these conversations as a way to prove we’re not racist. Listening will be our most powerful asset.
Seek the supernatural
We should not be afraid to continually ask for a move of God when it comes to racism.
The idea of sending thoughts and prayers can be perceived as a cop out, a way to escape the hard work of policy and change. As a Christ follower, it’s important to recognize that faith without works is dead. If our prayers for racial reconciliation are genuine in some way, our actions will reflect that.
How will our struggle for peace affect our daily worship and our Sunday gatherings? Let it stoke the flames of our faith and cause us to long for God’s presence with a greater urgency and desperation.
Let the lyrics bounce off our tongues with more passion and purpose than ever before. Let our hearts bow to each word of scripture in reverence and fear to the only one that can bring lasting peace.
A new heart is what we need in 2020, so let us who hope in God show that He has the power to transform a person, and even a nation, from the inside out.
Krislyn Placide leads worship at New River Fellowship in Fort Lauderdale.