In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream speech," he said "There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, 'When will you be satisfied?' We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality ... No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until 'justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.'"
We've had hundreds participate in peaceful protests in Auburn and Opelika. We've had several local prayer events specifically about unity. We've had local businesses, churches and groups make compelling statements supporting the undeniable fact that black lives matter.
So, where are we now? Are we satisfied? The simple answer is NO. We may never be completely satisfied — this side of heaven; we can be more satisfied than we are now.
The good we've seen so far needs to be a starting point. We still have a long way to go.
As Christians, we must plainly state that racism is a sin. It is an individual, generational, and institutional sin. As such, it will be a constant fight. May God give us the strength and weapons to fight this spiritual battle.
As an individual sin, you and I must repent of our racist thoughts, actions and inactions towards every other race. We must ask God to search us and reveal the truth to us. But, we should not be satisfied with just newfound awareness. We should not be satisfied with heart-felt expressions of sorrow. True repentance does start with inward change, but it MUST lead to outward changes in behavior.
As a generational sin, we must admit that racism is learned — most often from our families. Therefore, it must be confronted and discussed as a family. It may mean uncomfortable conversations with our siblings, parents and grandparents. When one of our family members says a racist joke or a racial slur, we can't ignore it anymore. We must say something. We cannot be satisfied with just conversations with older generations. We must actively teach our children. We must talk to them about race — the beauty of each race and the different challenges each race faces.
As an institutional sin, we must awake to the realities of systematic racism. Many of us are becoming more aware of the racial injustices present in our legal systems, financial systems, and educational systems. Much change needs to happen in those systems. But, we cannot be satisfied with changes only to those systems. As Christians, we must first demand change within OUR system — the church (American Christianity). While strategic action plans need to move us forward toward God's vision of the multi-racial church acting in divine love, institutional repentance needs to take place first.
We must repent of all the times that Christians have used the Bible to justify slavery, lynching, segregation and racism.
We must repent of the fact that some Christian groups killed people of color in the name of Jesus.
We must repent of the fact that Christians have mocked the worship styles of people of different races.
We must repent of the fact that Christians have often kept people of color out of leadership positions.
We must repent of the fact that whole denominations were formed to support slavery and racism.
We must repent of the fact that some preachers refused to do weddings or funerals of people of color.
We must repent of the fact that some churches asked people of color to segregate themselves inside our church buildings.
We must repent of the fact that some Christian schools were started to keep segregation alive even when it was outlawed.
We must repent of the fact that some Christian schools would not allow people of color to attend.
We must repent of all the times we saw racism in the church and said nothing.
No one denies that progress has been made. But, we have so much further to go. We are not satisfied with a little justice. We will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream." (Amos 5:24)
Jeremy Walden is the pastor of Mosaic Family Church, a nondenominational church in Auburn, and teaches Family Communication at Auburn University. Find Mosaic Family Church online at www.mosaicfamilychurch.org or follow the church on Facebook or Instagram to keep up with sermon series and events.