Throughout my time following Christ, different aspects of my reality have been shattered. Becoming a follower of Jesus as a teenager meant that I simply did not know much about life and perspectives other than my own. That’s an unfortunate fact of my life. However, the solution to broadening my worldview was equally as simple; speak to those who are different from you. Listen to what they believe and listen to why they believe it.
We are at the beginning of yet another civil rights movement in our country. Following the news of several more brutal deaths of Black Americans, the nation has resumed a state of collective outrage. By that, I mean that every few years, there is a death so egregious that nearly everyone can agree that justice must be served and the system must change. Truth is that whether there is a movement or not, Black lives still matter. I’d like to believe that if you are a God-fearing individual reading this, that fact is not in question, and therefore I will not take any time convincing you of its validity. My goal is to biblically tackle the damage of preaching and teaching with an undertone of “All Lives Matter.”
In 2 Corinthians 8:13-15 Paul writes,
“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: ‘The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.’”
This passage is written about financial giving, however, I believe it applies to all facets of sacrificial living. When the nation, nay the world, begins to shout out against oppression and injustice, certain comforts are automatically threatened.
The phrase “all lives matter” is only used as a defense against “Black lives matter.” At first glance, it’s easy to be enraged at this response. However, by taking steps to understand why someone may feel the need to shout with all of their might that ALL lives matter, there is potential to change the heart and mind of the person in front of you. For some, saying Black lives matter implies that the individual making such a claim believes that Black lives are the only lives that matter. Inherently, this isn’t true. However, the aforementioned offended party may not be aware of where the fallacy lies. In other words, their comfort is being threatened and their defenses are raised.
You may be asking yourself what this has to do with the Church? Very simply, the Church is made of people and is not immune to being offended, and thus most likely already has members who are tempted to utter the deflection of all lives matter. Preaching in a way to pacify these members and make them feel comfortable is not the role of the kingdom of God.
When the message of, “This is a sad and difficult time, but remember God loves everyone,” is preached, it is deflecting from the brokenness of humanity and the hurt in the world. Furthermore, it dismisses the hurt within one’s own congregation. It is a passive response to the very real heart issue of wanting the church to distance itself due to one’s own discomfort. In fact, the role of the church is the exact opposite.
Let’s look back at 2 Corinthians 8. This passage states that the goal is equality. Meaning that equality has yet to be achieved. In the NLT, verse 13 reads,
“Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality.”
In this translation, it is easier to ascertain that saying one life has value does not devalue all other life, it promotes life for all. The call Paul gave the church in Corinth to give generously is the same call we have been given. Give generously of your comfort. Specifically, give generously of the comfort within the confines of your church. Sunday sermons and worship are not merely times to bestow good feelings to the audience. It’s a place to challenge the sin of the world and send all who have ears to hear out to spread the message. Preach boldly against injustice. Jesus would and did.
He had to break through the dominant culture of the religious majority of the day we’re desperately holding onto. So much so that they frequently tried to trap Jesus in his actions. In Mark 2 it reads,
“When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
In other words:
“It is not all lives that need defending right now, but the oppressed.”
If you are the leader of a congregation reading this, what can you change about how you are preaching and teaching to your members? If you are a member of a church that you feel is not speaking out against injustice enough, who can you spur on in love and good deeds? I think we can all agree that the world needs Jesus; how are you helping the world to know Him?