George Floyd is my brother

George Floyd is my brother. Like you, like me, George Floyd was created in God’s image and declared good. We are members of the one human family, all of us beloved children of God. Further, I am a Christian and so was George Floyd. That makes him my brother no less than the one with whom I grew up in the same household. George Floyd and I did, in fact, grow up in the same household: the household of God. George Floyd and I are united in Christ, made one in our baptism and through the Spirit, inseparable members of the Body of Christ. If his murder is not personal to me, then I am not the Christian I claim to be. If his murder, and that of countless other innocent black and brown people, does not make me scream in lament and groan in mourning, then I am not a follower of the Head of the Body.

The mural, located on the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue South in Minneapolis, is the work of artists Xena Goldman, Cadex Herrera, and Greta McLain. The group started working on the mural on Thursday morning and finished it within 12 hours with the help of artists Niko Alexander and Pablo Hernandez. (Photo credit: Lorie Shaull, CC BY-SA 2.0)

If white Christians do not see the murder of black and brown people as the killing of God’s family and our own, then we need to stop calling ourselves Christian. If we do not take actions that reflect not only our kinship with our brothers and sisters of color, but our culpability in their oppression and deaths, then God should cut us from the vine and throw us in the fire. For too long our claim of white innocence has facilitated, perpetuated and inflicted suffering on black and brown people. We are guilty, born in the sin of racism and accountable for refusing to renounce and combat it.

We know what needs to be done. Let’s not claim ignorance, either. Jesus’ calls for justice resound throughout the Gospels. God’s repugnance and judgment of those who worship while exploiting others pulsates throughout the Bible. Woe to us who do not practice what we teach, who tie up heavy burdens and lay them on the shoulders of others. Jesus says that utter darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth are in store for hypocrites. We whitewashed tombs need to get on our hands and knees and dig up all the skeletons we want to keep hidden in the closets of our homes and our history.

If we who call Christ our Savior do not trust the light of our Lord so reveal, but also heal, the evil within and around, how can we expect anything other than the uprising happening all around our country? God desires a good future for all. Jesus came that we might have abundant life. The Spirit burst through every possible human barrier and division in order that we might have all things in common and no one would be in need. Why, then, are we not fulfilling the commandment upon which all the law and the prophets hang, to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves?

The love God requires and Christ demands does not make excuses for attitudes, conditions, systems, policies or actions, personal or corporate, that hurt human beings or wound creation. Our love is to be embodied, indwelled and relentless, it endures and bears all things. It also hopes and believes all things. It never ends. Why then are so many of us in white churches afraid to hear the painful, daily, centuries long realities of black and brown children of God? Since 1619 people of color in this land have endured unspeakable violence and ever adapting, perpetual racism and we white people do not want to withstand being emotionally uncomfortable. Surely our faith in Christ is stronger than our aversion to feeling uneasy. Is not our discipleship deep enough to let go of our entitlement and privilege and trust God’s reconciling power?

Until we white Christians see George Floyd as our brother, and every human being as made in God’s image and one for whom Christ died, and codify these truths in policy and enact them through reparations and embody them in our actions, we are subject to Jesus’ words from the prophet Isaiah proclaimed to the money changers in the temple: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations. But you have made it a den of robbers.”

Our brother’s blood is crying out from the asphalt. How will we respond? When will we who benefit from racism confess, repent and make amends? Can Christ not do abundantly more than we could ever hope or imagine? Are not all things possible for God? Jesus tells us that it is in losing our lives that we will save them. Perfect love casts out fear.

It is way past time for white Christians to stop our pious posturing and start rending our hearts at the death of our brother and our part in his murder. The truth, if we are willing to hear it, will set us all free.