By Melody T. Knox
“Racism isn’t a bad habit. It isn’t a mistake. It is SIN. The answer is not sociology, it’s theology.” – Dr. Tony Evans
I was just beginning to adjust to sheltering in the house due to the COVID-19 virus. I guess I am learning to become content in accepting the situation I am in for now and to trust God for the many changes that are coming on the other side of this pandemic. However, the events of the last couple of weeks involving African-Americans and their deaths blindsided me. I have experienced anger that I am not used too. I do not usually have a problem with anger, but the unnecessary death of George Floyd took me to a place where I have never been.
I spent the first two days angry — angry at the four policemen and all the people that stood by video recording what was occurring. How did this happen? Why didn’t one of the policemen say to his colleague, “man, that’s enough.”Why didn’t one of the bystanders go and call for more backup from the police or someone who would be willing to intervene? Maybe it was fear that the situation would escalate. Well, it did escalate — a life was taken and our cities have been in an upheaval ever since.
By the third day, I was streaming church services online and my heart began to soften because of hearing God’s Word, of being reminded who I am in Christ first. By Monday, the tears came in buckets. I could not stop crying and asking the Lord to help me forgive even as I have been forgiven. I was reminded that my identity is in Christ and I cannot let everything I have been seeing, reading, and hearing override that identity.
All of the events that are still occurring have made me do some serious heart-searching. Would I have spoken up if I had been in the crowd? Why haven’t I been this heartbroken about all of the other incidents that have killed our African-American boys, young men, and men? My dad grew up in a town in the South, where African-Americans learned to stay in their place. He never wanted that for us, so in some ways he shielded us from the pain of racism. I believe he took the pain for us so that we would not have to hurt like he did through being treated differently because of the color of his skin.
We cannot continue to allow this to happen on our watch, especially the church of Jesus Christ. This cannot be a moment in time, but it must invoke a major movement. A much-needed heart change in the way we do life. I have an African-American son who is a Marine and two bi-racial grandsons who the world will always see as African-American first. I do not want to see Marines come up my walkway bearing tragic news because someone felt threatened by the color of my son’s skin color.
So, where do we go from here? I am doing what I do best — praying. I am asking the Lord to reveal to me what I am willing to die for, personally. Praying for the unrest to stop in our cities. Praying for God to forgive us and to intervene on our behalf for all the ethnic groups that continue to experience the pain of racism and persecution. To touch the hearts and minds of a nation, a world. Racism has always been a sin; we have just chosen to refer to it with softer definitions and to put our heads in the sand.
I am praying for my white Christian brothers and sisters whose eyes have been opened and are now willing to listen and learn. Who have to understand a world that they have never lived in and to break some generational teachings and thoughts. To find comfort in knowing that they may not understand all the dynamics and pain African-Americans have suffered, but just to know that they care. To consider to be willing to add their voices and actions to the movement because they are now more aware than ever, that racism has and always will break the heart of our heavenly Father. And to realize that this is not an African-American problem, it is a world problem.
I am daily reminding myself that I am an African-American woman, daughter, sister, wife, mom, Mimi, but most of all, I belong to a God who sent heaven’s best to suffer and die for me. I must embrace that role far above any other roles. I want others to see Christ in me and I cannot do that if I allow unforgiveness to abide in my heart and mind.
In “Oneness Embraced,” Tony Evans says, “The church of Jesus Christ has a goal. We have a kingdom goal. Racial reconciliation is not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal of the church is to glorify God by reflecting the values of God among the people of God through letting the truth of God be the standard under which all things align.”
Melody Knox serves with the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware as the church strengthening specialist for women.