“Use your words.”
I mean, who knows how many I’ve told our wild posse of kids just those three words because: Words are how we amplify the beat of our hearts.
When I couldn’t stop wincing, watching George Floyd pinned to the ground by the knee of a white man pinching down his neck for 8 long, agonizing minutes, that’s all I could think: “Listen, listen to him! He is using his words!”
He used his words. He said he couldn’t breathe.
He was already handcuffed, he was already immobilized, he was already detained. If we are truly formed by love, no one needs more information to know that is truly wrong.
He used his words and begged for his life — until his heart stopped and he lay dead. Until the hot air was sucked right out of his lungs, sucked out of the whole witnessing world.
When someone uses their words to tell us to stop, and we continue to use them for our own power trip, we are the ones being used as a tool for evil.
When someone uses breath in their lungs to tell you they can’t breathe, you are suffocating all that is good, and your own soul, if you aren’t moved to change.
When we remain silent in the face of injustice, we loudly slap the face of God. Because the person being abused is the face of God.
We will never really reflect the image of Christ to the world — unless we really see the image of God in everyone.
And what does God want? He uses these words:
“What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, —
being available to your own families….
Make the community livable again.” Isa 58, MSG
God is not using His words so that you can use His Word as an excuse to care only about the interests of the people under your roof, with your last name, with your skin color.
This is the startling thing God’s word is saying about justice when He commands that we be available to your own families:
Those in need — are your own family.
If you’d only speak about injustice if it effected your own family — then speak now. Because those experiencing injustice are your own family.
Don’t think it could be your family next. It’s your family NOW.
God’s using His words to say: Oppressed people — are your people.
The God of power — stands with people who have little power.
The God on High always stands with those lowest on the totem pole.
All other gods and cultures may be about the power at the top — but the king of the Upside Down Kingdom is about the people at the bottom.
God uses His very Word so we cannot use any excuses:
You’re to live in ways that makes your community liveable again.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV)
If we only speak up when the injustice effects us, while being silent when the pain effects others, that would make us narcissists instead of all-in, others-oriented Christians.
We are called to seek out & speak out for the interests of others in the world — because that is how God is seen in the world.
Dignity & humanity & safety are not a function of geography or nationality or ancestry.
You are in your community to speak up for those in positions of vulnerability — because they are your family.
A whole world of people will decide who Jesus is — by who we are. And this is who God calls us to be for our family: “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress…” Zechariah 7:8
Do not press a man’s neck till he chokes his last.
Do not stay silent when one steps on the neck of God and think you stand for God.
When the video ends and I close my eyes in honour of George Floyd —— that’s all I can see:
All there is to see is Jesus — Jesus in the face of everyone — and everyone seeing Jesus in the face of us.
Imagine a world — where we see the image of God in everyone.
God uses His words — they could breathe justice into the world even now.
The air’s hot here today across the farm, wind blowing some new system in from on high.
Like when breath becomes prayers that rise.