Dr. Bernice A. King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., shared an address that I heard at The Justice Conference that I promised earlier that I would engage with its own blog post. She raised many challenges to do things God’s way to restore standards and morality in our country. She lamented that God is being left out of much of the justice work that is being done today.
I will shape the rest of my comments in this post around a quote that I found very challenging:
“The church needs to be engaged as a thermostat” because we have often just been a thermometer, checking the temperature of culture.
Thermostats raise the temperature, raise the stakes, raise the pressure in the places and issues they heat up. The temperature, stakes, and pressure that the church needs to raise to our culture will take enormous amounts of courage because ultimately we are trying to reflect Christ to the world. People are more adjusted to checking the thermometer. They (non-Christians and even some Christians) will be and are opposed to the church’s engagement and interest in people’s overall wellness- physical, emotional, cognitive, economic, and spiritual. We can’t just change culture by critiquing it though. That is where many Christians start and convey the message of us vs them. Instead, we need to peacefully invite people around the table to discuss their hopes, dreams, concerns, beliefs, and solutions. We need not just to hear, but we must listen and consider others in humility (Phil. 2). When we provide the reason (Christ) for our hopes, dreams, concerns, beliefs, and solutions are rooted in persistent, peaceful, and personal relationships to love God and one another people see a different attitude. That kind of message unleashes a service from people in the church that could be just like that of the disciples, who “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) with the message and demonstration of Christ’s love.
The key that Berniece A. King left me with is that we must do all of our work in peaceful, non-violent ways. There are temptations in any kind of work to fight back with words, tweets, and even objectifications of others (although I’m not leaving out physical violence either, I’m just more prone to verbal swings). In all your work, acknowledge Christ and guard your heart from bitterness and isolation towards others. The road unraveling and awaiting Christ’s final return to bring justice is long, but it is worth it for the visible portrayal and reconciliation of ourselves to God and one another.