Where would Jesus stand on the #BlackLivesMatter movement? When you think about Jesus, the gut screams that He was an All Lives Matter kind of guy right?
Absolutely. If anyone would have advocated that All Lives Matter it would have been Jesus. And you know who else believes that All Lives Matter? Pretty much everyone in the Black Lives Matter movement. But let’s take a closer look.
Back in Genesis we read that we were all created in the image of God. The number one best-seller on the Bible verses of all time to commit to memory list, John 3.16 reminds us that ‘God so loved the whole world that God sent God’s son…’ A lot of All Lives Matter going on in there.
But which life matters now?
Let me say it once again: The #BlackLivesMatter movement believes that All Lives Matter. They just believe that at this moment it is important – given overwhelming evidence over hundreds of years which suggests the opposite – to highlight the fact that Black Lives should matter just as much as white and other lives. But where is Jesus on this?
In Matthew 19 we see Jesus in the middle of a crowd calling for the children to come to Him.
In Mark 5 we see Jesus surrounded by a crowd, stopping to give attention to a woman with a specific medical condition who had touched Him hoping to be healed.
In Luke 19 we see Jesus once again in the midst of a large crowd, stopping and drawing attention to a short man who had to climb a tree to see Him pass by and telling Zacchaeus that He was going to be dining with Him.
In John 4 we see Jesus going out of His way to ensure that He ends up at a well to have a very significant encounter with a Samaritan woman.
And in Matthew 5 we see Jesus preaching, once again to a large crowd, and singling out specific groups of people…
Blessed are the poor in spirit…
Blessed are those who mourn…
Blessed are the meek…
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…
i firmly believe that Jesus was an advocate for all lives mattering.
But in this particular moment, it was the children who needed some focus and attention.
At this time it was Zacchaeus who had a specific need to be reached in a way that would impact many lives around Him.
Right now it is this woman who has struggled for years with a medical condition who needs the compassion, love and healing of Jesus.
Yes, all lives do matter, but because the poor are often trodden on and thrown to the sides, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit…’
Absolutely, all lives matter, but this group is in deep grief right now and so, ‘Blessed are those who mourn…’
All lives matter, but the meek are often stepped on or bulldozed and so, ‘Blessed are the meek…’
Jesus understood that within the broader context understanding and lived-out reality of His mission, in which all lives definitely mattered, there were occasions and periods where special attention needed to be given to one life, or some lives. That never contradicted the idea that All Lives Mattered. In fact, it always served the purpose of bringing two extremes closer together so that collectively all lives mattered a little bit more.
The Greatest Command
When it comes to Jesus and Justice, there is a lot that can be said, but for me it is all summed up in this one phrase. Ironically this phrase is part of the command Jesus speaks when He says, “This sums up the Law and the Prophets”. This one thing, if you get this, is the very heart of what My mission is all about. Part of it was a focus on loving God but the second part was the iconic: Love your neighbour as you love yourself.
In America, it is very clear that Black Lives have not mattered as much as white ones. Through slavery and the Jim Crow laws and the system of mass incarceration it is quite evident.
In South Africa we look back to colonialism and apartheid as well as the realities and inequalities of present-day South Africa and it is still fairly obvious to those who will see. The lives of black, coloured and indian people are not as valued as those of white people.
As people we need to do better.
But as followers of Jesus, we really have no choice. This should be in our D.N.A.
Matthew 25 gives us the story of the sheep and the goats in which the call is to actively reach out and make a difference and touch the lives of those who – for a variety of reasons – might be considered the least of these.
All lives matter. But right now in this moment we need to be giving attention and focus to those that matter less. Which is the homeless who were forced into Strandfontein, the refugees who were bundled into Wingfield and Paint City, the many who are struggling to find enough to eat on a day to day basis right now, and still the lives of black, coloured and indian people who do not enjoy equal status in their country.
i believe Jesus would have been marching with the #BlackLivesMatter crowds. At the same time he would have had something to say to the police and the government. And to each one of us.
While All Lives Matter, it is up to us to continue the example of Jesus and spend time sitting with those in pain and fear and facing rejection and to very much let them know their lives matter.
In South Africa, right now i believe it is important for us to speak out:
Black Lives Matter
Coloured Lives Matter
Indian Lives Matter
Women’s Lives Matter
And then be living lives which actively do something to change the present narrative, whenever we see it in front of us, that suggests that they don’t.
[For a piece i wrote as a resource to help other people better understand #BlackLivesMatter, click here]