Christ, The Leading Authority on Race Discussions – Not You
By Malachi Carter
Today we welcome Malachi Carter to the pursuit! Malachi A+scribe Carter is a Far East Side Indy artist. He describes his writing as “those inner-city school field trips to a Broadway musical (before, during, and after).” He probably does too many things: rapper, poet, host of The Unapologetics Podcast, high school Humanities teacher, Director of Elementary at his church home, photographer, and activist. He just cannot seem to stick to wearing just one hat; they all look so dope! Why not wear them all, in one day?
Can I be 2020 for a moment? I am ever so tired of my white brothers and sisters speaking out against any or every working part of what we’re calling “The Black Lives Matter Movement.” Now, more often than ever, I see posts from white colleagues and acquaintances written in tones of urgency and assertiveness. Their announcements to the cyber world may reflect the following:
“Why aren’t they (also/instead) focusing on black-on-black crime?” “I’m all for protesting but I am not for all the rioting and looting.” “[insert racially charged incident] wouldn’t have happened if [insert murdered black person] hadn’t done anything wrong.” “BLM is a hate group.” “All lives matter!”
This is not a blog written to offer to white masses world-shaking rebuttals. No. This blog is for you, Black Christian, to affirm you in this: you are not crazy.
Your impassioned declarations, petitions, and laments demanding justice do not render themselves useless in The Kingdom of God.
How can we be affirmed in this? Christ, himself, and his word.
Apostle Paul defines for us the elemental attributes of The Kingdom of God: “not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).
Now, I am no theologian by merit. However, I am an English teacher who currently graduated with a masters degree. I actively pursue precision of language through denotation and presentation. So when I read “matter,” I hear the appropriate contextual synonyms: “subject,” “topic,” “question,” “concern,” and “importance.” In the same manner the term “righteousness” hosts the principle of “justice.” That’s denotation.
Subsequently, as aforementioned, I maintain a laser-focus on the presentation of words–sentence structure. Paul prioritizes “righteousness” as the entry to kingdom living. The structure of his litany suggests that “peace” and “joy” do not exist apart from the pursuit of righteousness. This means that when justice matters to us, when we demonstrate that conviction through our actions, we participate in The Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10)
Your declarations, Black Christian, are legitimate. No one who has little-to-no understanding of your personhood, your community, or your culture has the rhetorical authority to convince you otherwise. Some may weaponize scripture, posturing themselves as authoritative figures on events that do not affect them directly or majorly.
Let us remind ourselves of the qualifications that activate ethos in our discourse:
Who is Christ? The God of the universe, incarnate, who dwelt among oppressed communities–Immanuel, “God with us” (Matt. 1:23). He spent years showing and gaining credibility with the very people he instructed, and has the supernatural power to continue to do so with us as well.
Who is Paul? He humbly qualified himself by social merit and intentional community partnership and immersion as he specifically instructed Timothy: “I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer…Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:1-15). Paul understood that one should not simply preach to a group in which one does not know, intimately. Likewise, one cannot be convincing to a group when that group does not know that individual.
Who are you? You are a Black person, able to speak on issues found in and surrounding the black community. And, just to add, you most likely understand fairly deeply white culture and have been chronically immersed in their community. So, you are even qualified to present critical thought on white-black issues. You are also a Believer, able to speak the words of Christ who is the “author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). You are a Black Christian, qualified to demand the discontinuation of the destruction of your God-given, image-bearing, save-worthy body in the name of our Savior and Lord.
Who are they, one who has miniscule knowledge of and has not dedicated significant time and self-giving energy to the black community, to speak as if they are the leading authority? What is their degree of credibility? Those are not criticizing questions, no. Those are, rather, critical questions.
It is okay for one not to know everything and everyone. Therein presents opportunity for cultivating authentic relationships.
Rest assured, family, that no one can discredit the merits of your experience and expertise when those components inform your speech. But who am I to speak in this manner? I am, too, a Black Christian who is “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” as some of our elders used to say. And I, too, am still working by pursuing matters of the kingdom, which includes prioritizing matters of justice (Matt. 6:33).
We, all members of The Body of Christ, have much much work to do. Let us do it together, listening to one another, spending meaningful time with each other, giving ourselves fully to one another, and advocating for one another. This is what the Gospel prescribes for us, truly making it “good news.” There is always good news in knowing that someone who cares for you is right there with you, believing you when you ask for help and believing that they can actually offer you help.