Jun 032020 17 Responses

Why Our Church Says “Black Lives Matter”

Imagine if every time one of my children said, “Dad, I love you,” I responded with “I love all my children.” It wouldn’t take long before they would begin to doubt my love for them. And if I don’t love each of them, I don’t love all of them. We can’t love the all unless we love the each. Yet when I consistently show and say my love for each of my children, it removes any question about the love I have for all my children.

One of the great privileges of the pastorate is that I get to regularly affirm the value and worth of all people. In a society that loves to devalue others in an attempt to justify ourselves, the message of Jesus is radically different in that it gives every human respect and value based on their Creator rather than their ability to produce.

We Regularly Announce Value

In most cases, these announcements of value are widely appreciated.

As the parents of a child with special needs, Jenny and I regularly remind others that people with special needs matter. They have the same hopes and dreams as everyone else. They have the same basic needs of acceptance and friendship. Although the world has long excluded those who are different, we have joined countless others in promoting inclusion for those with physical or mental differences.

As a young man, one of my first sermons was a reminder that students (called teenagers back then) matter. The church often overlooked the young calling them the church of the future rather than recognizing the contribution they can make even while they are still in school. I reminded the church that students matter.

As a seminarian, my first pastoral job was as a pastor to single adults. It was my privilege to remind the church that marriage is not what gives a person worth. The church, especially in the south, often sees single adults as second class citizens who cannot fully contribute until they are married. Many churches will not hire an unmarried pastor. It was my honor to say single adults matter.

As a young pastor, our country was attacked which led to multiple wars. During those times I was able to affirm that men and women in uniform matter to God and matter to us. Both military and police have tasks which are difficult to imagine, yet they should carry out those tasks with a firm belief that God loves justice and is on the side of the peacemakers. I gladly affirmed that soldiers and police officers matter. (See: The Nobility of Police Restraint)

As an older pastor, I get to look at a variety of people and situations seeing where society devalues people. It becomes my joy to confront the lies and speak the truth of value into their lives. Single moms, people who have been divorced, those of a lower income, or former prisoners and a variety of people have been seen a second class in society (and the church). It has been a blessing to speak value into these situations and call specific groups by name saying they matter and they have value.

At no point, do I get push back when announcing value in the lives of these people, until I speak value regarding those who are black. Then there is an opposition. No one is foolish enough to say, “that’s not true.” They won’t publicly question the value of black people, but they will protest singling out black lives and saying they matter.


(see the following video from my friend and co-worker, Jackie Flake)

So We Say Black Lives Do Matter

No one hesitates when I say that Ella and people like her matter. Why would they object when I look at some of our church members and say they matter? It’s only because of the color of their skin.

In our church, we gladfully, joyfully, loudly proclaim that black lives do matter. In no way does this devalue or diminish the value of others. It’s only in saying that black lives matter that we can honestly say all lives matter. If you can’t say the former, you probably don’t believe the latter. We can’t love the all without loving the each. So we don’t hesitate to announce the clear Biblical message. Every person is created in the image of God and has value.

Of course, the only way to make the message true is for every person to call people, groups, families, and communities by name. This includes races. Didn’t we do this as children? We sang “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.” Then to clearly communicate who the “all” was, we sang “red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.” We proved the all by naming the each. (For a difference between the phrase black lives matter and the political movement under a similar name, see John Piper’s What Can We Learn From Black Lives Matters?)

It was true then and it’s true now that this especially includes those who are black because the church, our community, and our country has long failed to show and say that people of color have value. We have sinned. Not only do we seek forgiveness, but we also seek to do better. We now seek to live the song we have long sung. (See Russell Moore’s article “What George Floyd’s Death Should Remind Us About Justice and the Gospel”)

I love all my children. My love for all of them is proven through my love for each of them. Saying I love one doesn’t diminish my love for the other; it reinforces it.

As a pastor, let me remind you–black lives matter to God therefore they matter to us.

For more, see:

Southern Baptist President J.D. Greear

Matt Chandler

17 Responses to Why Our Church Says “Black Lives Matter”

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