In Finding Hope: Steps toward Racial Reconciliation, Pastor Hurmon Hamilton taught from the story of Lazarus in John chapter 11.
Three keys he mentioned from this story were:
- Listen graciously. So often we listen while we’re preparing our response, whether it’s defending our own actions, justifying certain behaviors, or even agreeing with what we’re hearing. Jesus listened to Lazarus’ sisters who both bared their hearts, saying “If you’d only been here, our brother would not have died.” Jesus didn’t rebuke them; rather, He wept with them.
- Reflect prayerfully. What is our God-led response to what we hear (rather than our knee-jerk reaction)? Jesus saw the sisters’ pain, and that of the mourners, and was “greatly troubled.” He asked “Where have you laid Him?” The mourners didn’t just point the way – they said “Come and see.” And He went with them.
- Act thoughtfully. John 11:38-39 says “Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb … Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.'” Martha, never one to hold her tongue, said but Lord, he’s been dead four days. Surely he stinks by now!
Jesus spoke to His Father, then cried out loudly, “Lazarus, come forth.” And Lazarus, wrapped in graveclothes, bound and stiff, walked out of the tomb. Jesus told the watchers to take the graveclothes off the man, because he was no longer dead, but alive!
I hate what’s happening in our country now. The riots, looting, violence, burning Bibles and flags. I’ve never experienced such a divisive time in my lifetime.
And no, we’re not each responsible for the racial injustices we see in our world. But as Christ-followers it is our moment to stand up and show the world who we are in Jesus.
And there are many reasons to listen, to reflect prayerfully, and to act thoughtfully. I have not experienced the systemic racism that instituted Jim Crow laws, that led to the formation of the Ku Klux Klan, that gave higher-interest mortgages–or none–to persons of color, because I am Caucasian. But my heart goes out to those who have been unfairly treated and given less opportunity simply because of the color of their melanin.
I want to follow Jesus’ example. Pastor Hamilton suggested asking our brothers and sisters to tell us their story of being African American in America–and listening!
If you’d like to hear the entire sermon, follow this link. I think you’ll be challenged and encouraged as Don and I were.