For brothers and sisters who follow the news, you should have seen numerous recent incidents highlighting the existence of racial tensions and injustice in American society. Conversations on these incidents, sometimes initiated by others and other times by myself, led me to do serious reflection on the topic. The following are some of my thoughts.
The biblical principle on human equality is clear. We are all equal under God because we are all created in His image. The Prophet Isaiah tells us that seeking justice, encouraging the oppressed, and defending the fatherless are more pleasing to God than performing religious acts (Isaiah 1:11-17). The Prophet Amos said the same thing (Amos 5:21-24). In the New Testament, equality in Christ is affirmed in Galatians 3:26-28.
Different social groups have adopted different actions to achieve racial equality. Some are mild and some are radical. We need to evaluate them sensibly and intelligently. Some approaches may be doing a disservice to the cause. But we should not be distracted by their failure and forget about the core of the problem.
I was reminded by wiser people that remaining silent will not solve the problem. We can wait for the indignation to die down, which it usually does. But a new incident will only make the anger come back even stronger. Biblical teaching calls for commitment to speak up against injustice. We may not have the experience or know the best way going forward. But we can certainly move ahead with some small steps.
We can begin by doing an honest self-examination. Are we racist? Do we think we are superior to others because of our culture or achievement? The fact that we call people of other races derogatory names reveals our hidden prejudice and even discrimination. A sister told me that she instantly paid more respect to people of different backgrounds simply by dropping those derogatory references.
Not all of us are called by God to be social activists. But at least we should be committed to listen, to learn and to understand. My son chose African American Studies as a second major in college. Speaking to him gives me many insights about what the African American community goes through. There is no lack of useful materials on the internet that we can read to gain better understanding on the issues. Befriending, instead of avoiding, different coworkers, classmates, or neighbors is another way of improving that understanding. Many traditional Chinese immigrants may find this hard to do. But it is a concrete way of practicing social harmony.
Prayer may be seen by some as a passive action. But our churchwide theme this year reminds us that it is commanded by God (Jeremiah 29:7). Prayer is dynamic and powerful. It is a unique contribution from Christians because of their relationship with God.
Our Social Responsibility Committee presented a series of messages on racial equality in the 2016 Social Responsibility Conference “Justice 101.” It was relevant then; it is relevant now. It continues to remind us of our duty to seek justice as members of American society.
Daniel Chan, Acting Senior Pastor, June 21, 2020