Black Lives REALLY Matter

Black Lives REALLY Do Matter  by Joshua M. Wallnofer

(This can also be printed out in tri-fold pamphlet form here: “Black Lives REALLY Do Matter” by Joshua M. Wallnofer)

Really?   The word “really” is really important in the title.  There are many friends in my circle that will very hesitantly and reluctantly write that Black lives matter, but only if there is some stipulation, condition, or set of requirements attached.

The provision for black lives REALLY mattering include:  dealing with the abortion rate in the black community, black on black crime, the drug culture, having young men pull their pants up in urban neighborhoods, violence in hip-hop, fatherlessness, and a host of other cultural sins that must be mentioned, condemned, and for some even eradicated before their lives REALLY matter.

blacklivesmatter-Josh-Wallnofer

I believe this is called “rubbing salt into an old wound” or “rubbing someone’s face in it.”  To spell it out, what that means is you don’t sound very sympathetic, compassionate, or concerned about their feelings or plight.

Until these issues are addressed, black lives might matter, but not as much as the other communities who are free to live without such stipulations to determine their dignity or value.  This is quite ironic and hypocritical since no community has ever been immune to these offenses, and our entire nation is  increasingly battling the very same social sins.

I assure you, my white brothers and sisters, the black community is not blind nor indifferent to these societal pains, and continues to address them, as all groups should. We must realize, as my friend Pastor Tyler Burns has written, “human dignity is not contingent upon moral perfection.”1

Africa “Really” Matters In The New Testament:  The New Testament includes the lives of two men of Africa that are worth mentioning in this current controversy on the value of black lives.  The first is Simon of Cyrene.  We are told:

And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his [Jesus’] cross.” (Mark 15:21, ESV)

Scripture gives the important detail that this man who carried the cross of Christ was from Cyrene of North Africa. We see the dialects of Cyrene mentioned on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10), and are told later in Acts there was a “synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians….” (Acts 6:9) in Jerusalem.  This would be a synagogue “made up of freed slaves from various Hellenisitic cities and provinces.”2

The Gospel writer makes it very clear that it was a man of North Africa who had traveled to Jerusalem on the day of Jesus’ death that had the honor and great burden to carry the cross of Christ.   It seems, by Mark’s mentioning that Simon was “the father of Alexander and Rufus”, that his two sons were well known to Mark’s readers as followers of Jesus in the early Church (Romans 16:13). Perhaps Simon was the one used to bring the Gospel to his sons.

Don’t miss the important geographical detail of the word “Cyrene”.  That detail did not have to be given, but it is recorded in Scripture because it “really” matters.

Simon-of-Cyrene-Wallnofer

Later, in the narrative of Acts, we are told that the Gospel was brought to another man of Africa:

“…an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure.” (Acts 8:27)

Philip the Evangelist brought the Good News to this man of Ethiopia, which was “the ancient Nubian Kingdom, south of Aswan on the Nile.”3   This would be modern “southern Egypt and northern Sudan, between Aswan and Khartoum”. 4

This African man came to faith in Jesus and was baptized (Acts 8:37), and following this “went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39).  Again, it “really” mattered in the narrative that this man was from Africa.

Africa and Christian History While the professing Church has not always landed on the right side of history in its treatment of those of African descent, we are thankful that many true believers in Jesus Christ have lived as if black lives really mattered in the past.

It was men like Christian medical missionary and anti-slavery crusader David Livingstone, who demonstrated black lives really matter.  Livingstone was attacked by a lion, separated for many years and eventually lost his wife, lost a child, dealt with chronic sickness, and gave up a comfortable future to abolish the slave trade in Africa.  He said, “No one can estimate the amount of God-pleasing good that will be done, if by Divine favour this awful slave-trade, into the midst of which I have come, be abolished.  This will be something to have lived for.”5

Dr. David Livingstone Artist Unknown

It was men like Christian British parliamentarian William Wilberforce, who gave his life to vanquish “something even worse than slavery, something that was much more fundamental and can hardly be seen from where we stand today: he vanquished the very mind-set that made slavery acceptable and allowed it to survive and thrive for millennia.”6

Wilberforce said,  “If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.”  He gave 27 years of his life fighting to abolish the British slave trade, as well as abolish slavery in British colonies, a victory achieved just three days before his death in 1833.

Neither Livingstone or Wilberforce demanded moral perfection or a cultural Christianity in Africans for them to recognize that the lives of the people mattered, and these leaders gave their lives to demonstrate such.

It was Christian abolitionists who risked their very lives for 30 years before President Abraham Lincoln ever signed the Emancipation Proclamation.  It was Christian leaders like Billy Graham who refused to segregate his evangelistic crusades in the South.  There have been many who have went before us in the modern era who sacrificed much because they believed Black lives REALLY  matter.

Black Lives Really Matter  If you are a Christian, you must hold to the Biblical view that “God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).  You must believe that transfers to all mankind, “male and female” (Genesis 1:27), which includes our black brothers and sisters.

Jesus Himself made it clear we are to “love one another” (John 13:34), “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31), and even “love your enemies.” (Matthew 5:44).

I would contend, in these days of great pain and division, a simple way to show that love is to say “Black Lives Matter”.  “Black lives REALLY matter.”  No stipulations attached.

1 Tyler Burns, July 5, https://twitter.com/Burns23 – “When people try to bring up his past, remind them that #AltonSterling‘s human dignity was not contingent upon his moral perfection.”

2 NIV Zondervan Study Bible, Note on Acts 6:9.

3 ESV Study Bible, Note on Acts 8:26-27.

4 NIV Zondervan Study Bible, Note on Acts 8:27

5 See Jay Milbrandt, “The Daring Heart of David Livingstone”

6 Eric Metaxas, Amazing Grace – William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery”, Introduction, XV.

 

#BLM #Black #Lives #Matter #Christian #Response

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