The past few weeks have been a heavy time of lament and prayerful consideration for the Christian church. The unjust deaths of Black men and women like Ahmed Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor have led many white Christians to ask “What should I do as a Christian in response to racism in America?” Jesus shared a parable in Luke 15 that helps to shed light on how we should approach this topic.
In the parable, Jesus explains that a shepherd has a hundred sheep but has lost one. He challenges the teachers of the law saying “Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” To Jesus, the answer is obviously yes. The shepherd would know that the lost sheep is in danger. The sheep would be vulnerable, lacking the same protection and care as the rest of his flock. Jesus challenges the teachers of the law to take responsibility for those who feel neglected, abused, or mistreated by the world around us.
However, It’s also important for us to take note of what Jesus says the shepherd does next. Jesus continues “Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’” He leaves no room for us to take offense. We aren’t offered the chance to challenge the shepherd in asking “What about the other 99? Don’t their lives matter too?” We don’t criticize the shepherd in saying “It’s not your job to find the sheep. If it hadn’t wandered off it would have never been lost in the first place.” He calls for us to rejoice!
In the parable, the other 99 sheep are safe under the care of the shepherd. Leaving them to find the lost sheep takes nothing away from them. In the same way, when we see our Black brothers and sisters fighting to end the systems of racism that have plagued their communities for far too long, we are called not only to fight with them until justice is found, but to rejoice with them when it is.
The murder and unjust treatment of Black lives due to systemic racism is a deeply rooted and complex issue in America. As Christians, it is our job to represent the love and justice of God by standing for equality alongside Black Americans.
Join Adventures in Missions as we support One Race Atlanta, a Christian movement to displace the spirit of racism and release a movement of racial reconciliation across our nation.