What am I to do?

by Gary Robertson

Anger, shock, horror, disgust, sorrow, despair. I am guessing that some of these words describe how you are feeling since the murder of George Floyd last week. And those feelings were amplified after peaceful protests were hijacked and turned into rioting, looting, and more harm and killing. If that were not enough, a poor response from our nation’s leaders has added fuel to this fire. So what are we to do? It would be tempting for those of us not feeling directly impacted by these events to sit this out and wait for things to calm down and move on with life. I believe that would be wrong. I want to encourage us all to remain in this uncomfortable moment and to self-reflect upon how we should actively respond personally and as a church.

In the days surrounding Mr. Floyd’s murder I had been having some other personal experiences that were drawing me in to the conversation about justice, racial division, and peace. Recently, I found myself watching a sermon responding to Ahmaud Arbery’s death at the hands of two vigilantes, only recently coming to the public’s attention. I participated in a webinar which included a breakout session on multi-cultural church. And one of my favorite podcasts had interviewed a multi-cultural church pastor who has written a book to help the church, specifically white Christians, to awaken to still existing problems of racism and segregation. Ok God you have my attention. What am I to do?

For me, the answer begins in the form of more questions. These are in no way exhaustive, but I invite you to reflect and wrestle with them, too, as a beginning place.

Does justice matter to me? Am I as outraged when abuse or wrong happens to others as I am when I am touched by it?

Can I admit that there is still racism today and that it does exist in the Church? Am I blind and ignorant to this? Am I doing or saying things that would foster racism? Do I need to repent? As one pastor prayed, “Forgive us Lord for failing to hear their voices—unless their stories were video-recorded.”

Who do I need to acknowledge that may personally experience injustice or discrimination? Am I ready to enter into their hurt and listen to them?

Does my understanding of the gospel include reconciliation with others, not just God?  Do I affirm that Christ has broken down the dividing wall of hostility and is making “one new man” out of us all? What does it mean for me to be a minister of reconciliation?

Am I ready to move from keeping this a private matter and into the public? Beyond the church, is there something within the local community that deserves my attention and participation?

I know more questions can be added, but this is a start. And I do mean a start. There is much soil to plow.

Let me move from questions to direction.

We are currently working our way through the book of 1 Peter on Sunday mornings. In his first letter, Peter is writing to suffering followers of Jesus, reminding them to fix their eyes on Christ, to frame their pain in the reality that Jesus suffered for them and in the future that he has secured for them. This Sunday, Pastor Phil will take us into 1 Peter 3, beginning at verse 8. I’ve borrowed words from Phil, so you can consider this a preview to his sermon.

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind…”

These are a reminder of things we are called to as God's people.

Unity of mind

It is not hard to find an idea, dig into how I am right, and hold to that at the cost of other people. One of the temptations in this moment is to make “issues” out of the struggles we are in, which gives me permission to form an opinion, convince myself I am right, and hold my thoughts at the cost of individuals. But Romans 12:5 tells us we are members of one another. As part of the body, I need to learn how to lay down my rights, my privileges, and my autonomy for the sake of being united to others.


Many are hurting as they are touched closely and fiercely by injustice, violence, and deep wounds. As believers in Christ, it is not ok to stand aside because those are not pains that we feel, fears that we dread, anxieties we experience. We are told to weep with those who weep. We are told that as part of the body of Christ, as one part suffers, we all should suffer. Rather than filtering everything through our own lens and experience, we need the heart of Jesus, who made our pain his own and sympathized with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15).

Brotherly love

Jesus called his disciples to love one another as he has loved us. We are called to love our brothers and sisters in word, in action, and in truth. When we look at Jesus, we see that he loved in a way that was sacrificial. His love made him vulnerable to being misunderstood and criticized and attacked. Jesus loved in a way that fixed what he did not break, that restored what he did not steal. If we are to love like Jesus, we need to love in the same way.

A tender heart

One tragedy of hardship is how quickly we can become cold and hardened to it. When we respond with our own self- righteousness, when we justify other’s bad behavior, when we dismiss or grow indifferent to things that don’t directly affect us, we are not being compassionate. On several occasions Jesus looked at the city of Jerusalem and wept over it. His heart was broken when he saw the brokenness, the people who were lost and misguided. We need to pray that God will help our hearts to respond in the same way - tenderly, compassionately, kindly.

Humble mind

Humility is in short supply these days. Being humble in mind means that I admit and embrace that there is much I don’t know. Being humble minded means that I listen, not just to confirm my own bias, but to understand or to be challenged. Humility means I don’t assume things or dismiss opinions. We are to value truth, and being humble minded recognizes that I do not have the corner on truth.

The beauty of 1 Peter is that in the midst of our hardships and suffering, it calls us to look back at Jesus suffering for us on the cross, and to look forward to our future hope secured through that suffering. Looking back at Jesus' suffering means we are reminded that we have a God who not only cares about our hurts and pain, but has actually walked through them. The gospel reminds us that as hard as pain is and as deep as hurt goes, it does not go farther or deeper than the pain Christ has entered into and experienced on our behalf. We have a God who understands pain, injustice, bitterness, and heartache because he has lived it. And we are also reminded that because of what he has suffered on our behalf, that he has secured for us a hope that is undefiled and imperishable. We can look beyond the brokenness of this world to see a God who has promised to make all things new, who will wipe away every tear, who will fix all that is now devastated, and know that because of Jesus, we can be with him and experience that ultimate restoration forever.

Those are words to which we can say, Amen. But let us not be found just sitting around waiting for that day to come. Let us seek God in prayer, asking him to change our hearts where needed. Let us be the hands and feet of Christ right now to those around us, pursuing reconciliation and restoration in our very broken world.