These past few years in the US have been extremely difficult for people of color, law enforcement, and the criminal justice system. While I personally have had my thoughts and concerns - they were carefully discussed. I grew up being told to take responsibility for your actions and that everything e
lse will take care of itself. And while I believe this to be the case - I also believe that there are situations that require our prayer; they also deserve our action. Without going through the number of publicized assaults and deaths of various victims, I must concede that the issue is intensifying and not decelerating. There are multiple problems that are unfortunately being grouped under one heading. There is an overt and unspoken racism throughout our law enforcement and justice system. There is an issue of mass incarceration of African Americans, Latino Americans, and poor European Americans (white Americans). There is a media bias, which is not information based, but ratings based. There is an economic injustice, which is a complicated issue that requires action. There is political manipulation from both major parties - creating a racial divide that labels republicans as white racists, and democrats as the party of the disenfranchised. (When in reality it is probably the republicans that reflect the conservative heart of African Americans according to liberal African American Pastor.) There is crime problem in urban and suburban communities (murder and violent crime). And at the end of the day, these are legitimate and real issues that we need to face as the body of Christ. It would be easy for us to focus on eternity and ignore the issues that face our communities, but I believe that would be irresponsible. As a very progressive charismatic Christian believer, I recognize that the systems of this world are decaying and that the end of the world as we know it is coming with great haste. But that doesn't remove our responsibility to pursue moral righteousness in our nation and in the nations of the world.
The challenges that are before us require wisdom, passion, understanding, and resources (people & finances). We need faith & work to impact the issues of our day. I am a firm believer in the power of prayer to change, alter, and accelerate any issue. I also believe that engagement is necessary to resolve many issues. Now let me be clear that it may not always be the one praying that does the work and the one working may not be the one praying but they are a concert of action that need one another. We need to mobilize activity and not denigrate either side, because as believers we need both to have impact.
But let's focus on some real strategies as churches so that we can have impact and change:
Understand that the fight against injustice is a norm for the believer. From Abraham to Moses, and from Jesus to John the fight against injustice has existed. Abraham fought against the capture of the people from Sodom and Gomorrah. Moses stood before Pharaoh, Jesus stood on the mountain speaking against religious and social injustice. Paul stood in opposition to the punishment and abuse of Jews against Christians and Judaizers against gentiles.
Identify the issue that concerns you the most. Don't try to fight every battle. You can acknowledge every issue, but you must focus on the issue that most burdens you. When David fought Goliath - he fought Goliath not the Philistine army. You can assist others in their fight, but you can only spearhead one area.
Gather information about the issue and understand it thoroughly from every side. The danger for most leaders when the get involved in an issue is they are only seeing through one lens. My son wears trifocals at 8. He needs to see close, intermediate, and far away. And we may need to do the same in order to communicate our ideas to those who think the same as we do and those who think differently. This also helps us to understand that everyone suffering from an injustice may not all have the same issue and circumstances. For instance everyone who is economically poor is not poor for the same reasons. Get information and get understanding.
Develop a team who will see the issue through. It's easy to excite people about an issue, but very few continue the fight. I have seen people go up in the air about an issue and just a few weeks later once the fervor has warn off then it's back to normal. We need teams and leaders who will invest themselves into the issue until there is daylight. Inconsistency will allow the issue to increase in strength. Some issues will resolve in weeks or months, but most others take years or more to change. But be confident, change is inevitable.
Don't let politicians use your passion to divide. Most politicians are great friends regardless of political party. They work together and support one another. Don't get caught in the narrative of divisiveness that is propagated by the media or by politicians. I personally believe you have good politicians, tired politicians, and legacy politicians. The good want answers for the community they serve, the tired are just existing and being re-elected, and the legacy are focused on holding on to their good reputation, just holding on to their job. The key to success is that they need you to keep their job.
Keep hope alive. Always believe that better is coming no matter how bad it looks. No matter how many tragedies have happened to us as human beings God has given us grace to endure and to overcome. Keep believing that what you envision as a successful endeavor will come to pass. Even if you need to pass the baton - pass it to the next generation. Keep praying, keep believing, keep working, and keep progressing. Don't stop moving even after success has come, but acknowledge God's grace and his unfailing mercy as He guides us to victory.
Remember this, that throughout history there have been injustices that as long as the righteous push through, change always happens. Rejoice in every victory, and never be complacent and watch how much we will change together.