In the conflict over racial issues, “just preach the gospel” misses the gospel.
I remember the World War II stories I was told as a middle school student. Wearing secondhand clothes and sporting an unkempt fade, I sat in a hard wooden desk too small for my growing black body in a classroom full of distracted boys and girls. The air conditioning in Alabama classrooms was unreliable, which meant sweat was an ever-present companion to our education.
The teachers told us impressionable youths that the traumas of both world wars revealed American and British grit. These great nations set aside petty concerns and turned to the needs of others. I was told at that unforgiving desk that nations and individuals discover themselves under pressure. When the fervency of belief encounters the unforgiving realities of suffering, our deepest convictions are unveiled. When cancer invades a human body and stresses a marriage, the true depth of love and commitment becomes clear.
In more recent history, COVID-19 has been a similar pressure and a similar revelation for the United States and its churches. Just as there are tests that reveal a person’s character, there are national trials that make plain what a country is.
What has the COVID-19 pandemic said about the American church? Who have we revealed ourselves to be under pressure? I am talking not about the virus itself. I am talking about the social crisis of the pandemic, which brought to light the ongoing experience of racism and injustice by ethnic minorities in this country.
The church had an opportunity to lead in this area and show the world how our faith allows us to press for better treatment for all. Instead, some decided to litigate the validity of critical race theory. With Black and Asian blood drying on the concrete streets of American cities, some decided …