So far I have been pointing to what each of us as individuals can do to make a difference. In this blog, I want to send an open letter to the church.
Dear Christian Church,
As I look at the racial pain all around and the way it is being portrayed in the national media, it saddens me. The talk, the tone is so negative, and it is feeding more and more into the darkness that is already out there. I don’t blame the world for the reaction to the crisis it is facing. I don’t expect them to have real solutions. They are at a disadvantage. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Dear Church you have a pivotal role to play. You have the Light. You know the only real Love. The world is lost without your voice. Without your direction. It is time to stand and lead. Now is the time to speak out. You can remain silent no longer!
Those looking for Answers.
The writer of Ecclesiastes shares these words of wisdom,
There is a time for everything.
A time to tear apart and
a time to sew together,
a time to keep quiet and
a time to speak out.
Many commentators will point out that this verse refers to the mourning process. The tearing and silence are illustrating a time of grief and sewing. And the speaking out, the recovery. One writer paints a picture of the grief process. “Grief is a journey, often perilous and without clear direction. The experience of grieving cannot be ordered or categorized, hurried or controlled, pushed aside or ignored indefinitely. It is inevitable as breathing, as change, as love. It may be postponed, but it will not be denied.”-Molly Fumia
The seven (7) stages of grief are described as:
1) Shock or Disbelief
7) Acceptance and Hope
If we take that approach where are we in the grieving process with race relations in America? I would argue that the nation is going through Stage 3 right now: Anger & Bargaining. In this stage you may observe these warning signs:
“Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame…on someone else…You may rail against fate, questioning ‘Why me?’ You may also try to bargain in vain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair.” 
There is an expression of grief in the Old Testament. In 2 Samuel 1:11, David and his men tear their clothes in mourning for Saul and Jonathan. Job had a similar response upon hearing of the loss of his children in Job 1:20. In the Bible, tearing of clothes is a sign of anger and frustration.
Is what is happening in our cities right now a modern day version of grief and frustration? Is it a sign of a section of the society tearing their clothes screaming out in pain? Is society hoping someone notices just how deeply it is hurting? If that is that case what is the church’s response? Is it time to be silent? Or is it time to stand and speak out? If the church takes up the mantle to speak out, it needs to discern the proper place to express itself. And the discipline to refrain from speaking at other times.
Where Does the Church Need to Speak out?
It needs to happen from the pulpit. It needs to be discussed in the community. In any and every forum that the church has influence. But not in a guilt-inducing way. Lord knows we have had too much of that in the past. It needs to be addressed with great love and care for people. We have hit people over the head for far too long now. Often in my experience, people have no idea their views and attitudes are wrong. They have no idea their behavior could be regarded as offensive or hurtful. It is what they have been taught. It is how they were raised. It is not just the attitudes on one side of this conflict. Views across racial lines need to be challenged but challenged with God’s love for all humanity as the heart of the message. Perfect love drives out a lack of awareness. Perfect love draws people into meaningful conversations where reconciliation can take place. Perfect love heals the hurt, the anger, and the resentment.
What Is the Message the Church needs to speak?
The same article on grief discussed the final stage of the process: Acceptance and hope. “During this, the last of the seven steps in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before this tragedy. But you will find a way forward.”
The task of the church is to help society find a way forward. We can’t return to the days before the rift that was caused by the sins of our forefathers. We can’t undo all the evils we have done to each other in the past. But we can find a new way forward. We need to accept the modern realities. We must understand we still have lots of repair work ahead. But our goal is clear: replace the darkness of hatred with divine light. Replace the destructive speeches with a message of hope. It is time for the church to stand and to speak to the strongholds of the world. You possess the keys to forgiveness and reconciliation.
 GOD’S WORD Translation. (1995). (Ec 3:7). Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group.
 Fumia, Molly. (2003) Safe Passages.York Beach, ME: Conari Press.
Other posts in this series can be found on the blog under the category of Caught Between Two Worlds:
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