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Church, Your Legs Are Burning!

watchingthefire
Bystanders watch as Mount Zion AME in Greeleyville, SC. (Veasey Conway/The Morning News via AP)

The outrage that is bubbling just under my skin, in my heart…is near boiling. Like Jeremiah, “…his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:9)

Only now…a literal fire.

Arson.

7 churches in the South.

7 predominantly (I’m guessing, at least, 90%) Black churches.

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be… – Romans 12:4-6a (MSG)

Insanity. The Body is burning and the Church as a collective refuses to stop, drop and roll.

It’s like me having arthritis in my left arm, someone comes along and sets my sleeve on fire and I refuse to put the fire out because “Oh that arm is such a pain anyway. Always hurting!” Fool, don’t you know that the fire will consume you too!

(Although I must say that my analogy doesn’t work entirely. Arthritis isn’t an inflicted pain like racism.)

Church, a portion of our Body is on fire? Will we let it burn?

“Oh the church is the people; these are just buildings. We can rebuild.”

Yes, we can rebuild church buildings, But when I say “your legs are on fire” it’s not just the church buildings I’m talking about–it’s the PEOPLE. Fearfully and wonderfully, made in the image of God, PEOPLE.

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. – 1 John 3:17-18 ESV

Black and Brown folks are burning. Seems like every day, we are dying, ultimately, from a white supremacist system that gives birth to a Dylan Roof, the KKK and numerous rogue cops. A system that too many of our alleged white brothers and sisters are complicit in.

Yes, complicit.

Consciously or unconsciously, YOU enable racist acts daily when you choose to do nothing in the face of them. When you refuse to acknowledge, let alone leverage your privilege to dismantle the system. When, instead of caucusing and coming up with your own solutions, you sit back and whine to ask Black folks “What can I do about racism?” as if we are the ones who created it. When you can compartmentalize Charleston and these burnings as something that’s happening “down there” to “those people.”

But if white, conservative churches in the north started burning…?

This just in from our news desk: 7 predominately white churches have been set on fire. But it may not be hate crime. Investigators must rule out faulty wiring because the likelihood of 7 churches with the same demographics across multiple states burning down because of electrical issues within two weeks of a mass murder of 9 white folks in a church is…oh wait, in other news…Gay marriage has passed.

Yeah, exactly. Sit with that for a minute.

Sit with it and realize that if you and your local church would respond differently in my fictional scenario than what’s REALLY happening as recently as last night than you, Sir or Ma’am, have some serious reckoning to do.

The trick of the enemy from the dawn of this country is to position white people to believe that they can facilitate (actively or passively) the social, economic, and yes, physical burning of Black bodies and communities and think they won’t be  burnt in the process.

Because the king was in such a hurry and the furnace was so hot, flames from the furnace killed the men who carried Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to it, while the fire raged around Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. – Daniel 3:23, MSG

As followers of Jesus, we are called to function as one Body. Period. So to my white brothers and sisters who refuse to engage, whose eyes remained veiled, I hate to break it to you: the racist “fire” embedded in our systems and culture (King), that tries to consume your Black and Brown brothers and sisters, will be the fire that consumes YOU too!

Oh grace us like your servants, Lord!

So keep being silent if you want to, Church! Keep letting CNN and Faux News INSTEAD of the Holy Spirit define for you what’s happening and guide your response. The American church’s silence/neutrality on, and in some cases, denial of, the powder keg called race in America…this “let’s pray, forgive, and that’s it” approach with no push for accountability, no significant response outside of the alleged safety of the pulpit…absolutely lights the match on the next church.

And the next one could be yours.

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4 thoughts on “Church, Your Legs Are Burning!

  1. What a powerful article!!! If more followers of Christ would apply James 3:1-12 to their tongues and evaluate the plumb of their heart with verses 13-18. There could be more healing in this land. We are all broken people and if we do not change our ways. We will all lose our freedoms.Satan is having a field day with the hearts and minds but we have to remember his days are numbered, in the end Christ will be victorious. Until that day we need to continue to build relationships, grow with each other in our Lord and Savior and hold each other accountable with love, truth and grace. Prayers for healing in our land 🙂

  2. I appreciate your passion.
    I genuinely would like to hear your thoughts on what white Christians can do to fight racism (I hope I am not whining as I ask).
    What are some practical things white individuals can do in your view? I truly want to know.
    What do you mean by “dismantling the system”?

    Thanks,

    John (in South Carolina).

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