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Listen. Learn. Lead. Love!!

These times have been difficult, challenging and haunting. Another Black man killed by the police. A young Black woman killed in her own home by the police. A Black man jogging killed by White vigilantes. A Black man falsely accused of threatening a White woman and her dog. I am sad, but not shocked, that these tragic events occurred and continue to contribute to our nation’s long history of hatred, bigotry and injustice.

I do sense something different. A slight shift towards real and sustainable change.

Some people attribute the protests to the video footage of George Floyd’s 8 minute and 46 second murder. But, I say what about Rodney King or Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown and the countless other times that police or other “frightened” White people were “caught on tape” with seemingly undeniable evidence, and yet they walked out of the halls of justice, stealing justice from the families of those they murdered.

I do sense something different. A slight shift towards real and sustainable change.

Amid the COVID-19 quarantine, we have been locked in our homes, in fear and anxiety. Scared to death, literally, our own or someone we love. Being quarantined has given us the opportunity to slow down and be more reflective of what is really important, measuring ourselves against the beliefs and values we say we hold dear.

I do sense something different. A slight shift towards real and sustainable change.

COVID-19 has taught us in a very real way that tragedy can strike any one of us, with no warning, and not as a result of anything we have done. The idea that we or someone we love could contract COVID-19 even more easily, just because of who they are...elderly...pre-existing condition...unknown exposure has led people to experience a new level of vulnerability and empathy for others. Vulnerable, because we can’t control it...empathetic...because we all have the common experience of knowing what it feels to both want to be alive, and what it is to mourn someone we have loved and lost.

I do sense something different. A slight shift towards real and sustainable change.

It is serendipitous, that in this year of 2020, which represents perfect vision, many of our White brothers and sisters are seeing more clearly what the Black experience in America has been. In our sitting still...they are able to see things that were always there, but were moving at much too fast a pace to sit with, and understand the lived experiences of Black and Brown people in a country that has never considered them equal.

I do sense something different. A slight shift towards real and sustainable change.

These two things...the COVID-19 pandemic and the racially unjust epidemic in the United States may be the perfect storm, that in its wake, leaves behind the destruction of systemic and institutional racism and inspires the collective rebuilding of real and sustainable change.

I believe the Bible has every answer we need to live a life that is abundant and excellent. I believe that real and sustainable change is possible, if we who are Christians choose to live like Jesus. Here is what the Holy Spirit downloaded to me.

Listen – There are many scriptures in the Bible that command and remind us to hear. Matthew 11:15 says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” And another, James 1:19-27, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” What great advice!

What if we listened as the Bible teaches. Listening to hear and not respond, being slow to speak, and to anger. Listening with our ears of faith that are rooted in the word of Christ.

Learn – John 14:26, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” John 14:26 “ But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. Proverbs 4:11. Proverbs 4:7, “And with all thy getting, get understanding.”

First we must learn from our two best teachers, Christ and the Holy Spirit. Learning takes us being gentle and humble, with ourselves and those teaching us. It is only by us admitting that we in fact, do not know everything, that we can be taught the truth by Jesus and the Holy Spirit. God promises to instruct us in the way of wisdom and tells us to make sure we prioritize understanding. Knowing the truth and gaining understanding...this is the purpose of learning!

Lead – Jesus was a leader. He led the disciples and those he encountered by example. He taught that true leadership meant servanthood and sacrifice. In Mark 10, the disciples argue over who will be the leader once Jesus is in heaven again, Jesus admonishes them and says, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

We all must lead by showing our willingness to serve and sacrifice. White allies, cannot continue to call themselves allies if they are not willing to serve WITH communities of Color in the eradication of injustice and inequity. Serving and sacrificing through listening and learning other perspectives; reconstructing and reinvesting in our communities without gentrification, and transforming and trusting in spite of dominant culture narratives that are built on stereotypes and overt lies.

Leadership is hard work...and it is not for the faint. As the Bible says, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Gal. 6:9). This time, let’s not give up. Let us commit to keeping the “movement moving”. Even after COVID-19 or news stories about police brutality dim.

Love – Now this is the key to eradicating racism, police brutality and social injustice in our education, healthcare and financial systems. LOVE...It has always amazed me that Christians especially have neglected to hear Jesus’ words about what is ultimately important for the world to see and know about who we are. Christians are divided in factions over abortion, right and left politics and a myriad of other things that are defined as “non-negotiables”. But Jesus said this when asked what is most important, “‘you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[f] 40 the entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” He is clearly saying that loving God and our neighbor as the ultimate display of being a Christian.

1John 4:20 makes it even clearer. It says, “If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” Again, I am not sure why people who profess their belief in Christ, continue to pontificate a rationale that promotes hating their brothers or sisters of color.

Christ has called us to love one another...put our brothers and sisters ahead of ourselves. Love says, “You go first.” Love says, “I am my brother’s keeper.” What has God told that is “good, and what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

I implore all of us, especially those who are Christians, to Listen, Learn, Lead and Love so that God’s glory can manifest in ways that exceed our imagination!

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