Clearly All Lives Matter, but the unconscious struggle in the minds of many is with Black Worth. The mattering of all lives has never been a theological question because at the very core of the gospel message it is proclaimed, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). Christ died for all of human creation and He is concerned about the welfare of every soul. Despite that fact, through the mind of God, that has never stopped Him from commanding a special level of protection and care for the voiceless, abused, marginalized, oppressed, victimized, and impoverished of society.
It was Christ that reiterated from the Old Testament, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19). Despite our misguided attempts and desire to live in a colorblind world and system of equality, we actually serve a God that can see color and spiritually fosters a push for equity within the equality paradigm. One person said “To say you don’t see color is to say you don’t see me.” God is the creator of our essence so to act as if we see not the full human creation of God is to look at Gods design as flawed.
We must remember that there was a time in America when people of the African Diaspora were not considered human, but animals with tails — categorized, codified, and plagued by the conceptions of Phrenology and Physiognomy. Phrenology was a racist and illegitimate theory that attempted to assess human character by the shape of the skull and Physiognomy was the attempt to predict the same based on facial features. Through such false theories Black people were deemed prone to criminality because of the shape of skull and slope of face. Through this flawed assessment of beauty and desirability, Grecians were categorized as the most beautiful of all creation and Black people were deemed less than human and destined for violent and criminal behavior. Such beliefs were present even during American Christian times. Do you think Jesus would have been silent toward such inhumane times? The subtle residuals and impact are still present in America and globally. The word of God says all of God’s creation is beautiful. At the conclusion of creation the Bible records in Genesis 1:31 “And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good…” And the beauty of Black is also biblically depicted , “I am dark but beautiful, O women of Jerusalem—dark as the tents of Kedar, dark as the curtains of Solomon’s tents” (Song of Solomon 1:5). The context of Black Worth is still in question in the minds of some because of hateful African depictions of the past.
Remember the words of James, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). What about the actions of the Apostles in Acts 6:1-7, as they responded to the Grecian widows in the early church that were being discriminated against. The Apostles refused to allow the targeted neglect to continue. The proverbial writer said “Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate” (Proverbs 22:22). Despite any level of success or social mobility within the Black family and community in America, African Americans remain one of the most systematically oppressed groups. God loves all of His creation, but He has a special place for the abused, young, oppressed, women, etc. So theologically All Lives Matter, but at the same time, based upon the historicity of this nation and its strong hand in oppression, terror, and enslavement, the gospel message has something special to say through a Black Lives Matter lens.
Biblically it is perplexing that in the church the conversation related to Blackness and spiritual social justice is a taboo topic. Many in the church believe race is a topic that should not be discussed. Racism and oppression is sin and impacts the people of God so it should be emphatically discussed and acted upon. If Jesus walked amongst us today or during the days of African enslavement on American soil, He would not have been silent. God has always been concerned about the systematically oppressed. The question is why does the church have difficulty with the topic? God knows how many hair strands we have on our head or pores on our scalp. With that said, although it is a social construct, God also knows our race and the impact thereof. Based upon the words of James, God is not silent. “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?” (James 2:5-6). In these two passages God emphasizes His special relationship with vulnerable groups and points out the reality of oppressors and the oppressed.
The minute I heard the phrase Black Lives Matter my mind shifted to the conception of Black Worth. Based upon our current platform in the church I should not talk about race in an isolated fashion, and especially not the Black race. Typically the only socially acceptable way to discuss it in the church is through an All Lives Matter lens. The prince and power of the air seeks to spiritually silence Black speech, liberation, justice, and recovery. That is because Black Worth is in question. There is a subtle notion that says Blackness is not worth the discussion or extra effort. It is a devilish ploy call victim blame. The problem with that lens is the essence of the problem in Acts 6:1-7. On the surface they were serving all the widows, but in reality discrimination was happening. Without specific address and intentionality, marginalized groups rarely receive the necessary attention required. It is the reason why God told Israel in looking out for the needs of others, “…do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:10). Moses also said “When you gather the grapes in your vineyard, don’t glean the vines after they are picked. Leave the remaining grapes for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. 22 Remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt. That is why I am giving you this command” (Deuteronomy 24:21-22).
In the scheme of God, All Lives Matter is a given (He died for the world), but He leaves specific instructions for the oppressed and marginalized. The theology of God is in agreement with the concept of Black Lives Matter because He clearly understands Black Worth. Thus it is imperative that the church generates the gumption in being specific about ministry efforts toward the marginalized (inside and outside the church), being unafraid to name race. Continually strive to be an advocate for spiritual transfiguration, especially toward the most vulnerable. All Lives Matter was developed because of a lack of understanding or regard for Black Worth and the silence Black voice and assertiveness. Where are you? Don’t get caught in the same trap. Be watchful and Remember, you are the clay In The Potter’s Hands and God has paved a way to save you today!