The tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis shocked and outraged our entire nation as well as other countries around the world. This was a repulsive act of evil that should have never happened. Racial discrimination of any kind is wrong, and police brutality must never be tolerated.
And George Floyd isn’t the only one to meet such a fate. It is heart-wrenching that many, many others have suffered similar injustices over decades. And, while we know that the vast majority of police officers are courageous and dedicated servants of their communities who were as horrified by the actions of Officer Derek Chauvin as we were, it is scandalous that so many people of color have to go through their day wondering whether they, or their children, are going to be next.
Racism has caused deep wounds in our nation. But regret is not enough. We must make corrections, we must improve, we must act to bring positive change.
The Bible is very clear that all people are created in God’s image (see Genesis 1:27). No skin color is more or less important to Him. The Bible teaches us to love others as we would love ourselves. We should treat others the way we want to be treated. And even more, we are to treat others as God has already treated us in Christ—with grace and mercy.
Jesus dealt with issues of racial discrimination when He told the parable of the Good Samaritan. He pointed out to his listeners that a man of an ethnicity they looked down on, even despised, was the hero, doing the right thing in helping a victim of violence and injustice. And Jesus told us, “You go, and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).
I personally remember segregation. As a young boy, I went to a segregated school. Restaurants were segregated, bathrooms were segregated. I didn’t understand it, and it bothered me, saddened me, even repulsed me. As a nation we have come a long way since then, but we have a long way to go.
Unfortunately, until Christ returns, we will continue to see acts of violence, prejudice and injustice because we live in a broken and fallen world that is under the evil influence of Satan. The Bible calls Satan “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). He wants to steal, kill and destroy, and all around us we see the horrific results of his activity.
But there is an answer: The love of God that comes through Jesus Christ. Throughout the ages, Christ’s followers have experienced the wonder of Christian love and fellowship that obliterates hostility, whether it’s between individuals or between races. The Apostle Paul explained it this way: “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. … There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26, 28).
Our job as followers of Christ is to make our Savior’s Name known. We are to tell a hurting world that Jesus shed His blood and died for our sins. He was despised and rejected by men. He was falsely accused and beaten beyond recognition. The Bible tells us, “by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NKJV). He took the punishment for sin that we deserve, and if we will turn away from sin and put our trust in Him, He will forgive us, save us and fill us with the love that conquers racism and hatred.
Jesus has called us to go into the world and make disciples of all nations. This is what all of us as Christians should be doing, and it is what we are going to continue doing at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association—calling people to be reconciled to God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
In proclaiming the message of reconciliation, we must remember that prayer is our most powerful weapon. We need to pray for peace, because “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). Pray also for perspective, because “the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). Pray for patience, because of God’s “kindness and forbearance and patience” toward us all (Romans 2:4).
And the Bible commands us to pray for our leaders. They need our prayers especially now, as our nation faces not only the effects of longstanding racism but also the global COVID-19 pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands and put millions out of work.
Paul instructed Timothy: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
When we pray like this, we’re not just praying for a trouble-free world. We are praying for a world where truth will prevail and many will come to Christ in repentance and faith—a world transformed by the relentless love of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. The Scripture quotation marked NKJV is taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version.
Above: Crisis-trained chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team minister in Minneapolis at the spot where George Floyd was killed while in police custody.
Photo: Todd Sumlin/©2020 BGEA