With the recent acts of injustice that are being shared all over social media right now, there is an outcry from pastors and believers to see God move. My Facebook and Instagram timelines are filled with people crying out for the God of justice to show up and do something in our world.
This cry of lament is a healthy practice of the Christian faith. We see it from prophets like Jeremiah, kings like David, and in an entire Old Testament book called Lamentations. And, while it’s important to seek God in times of trouble and lay our burdens out in prayer, it’s equally as important to remember the God Whom we are approaching. As we lament, we need to remember the character of God and the command he gives his followers.
Let’s start with the character of God. When we ask God to show up in a situation, we are using language that negates his sovereignty. Asking God to show up is communicating the assumption that he is not omnipresent, that he is not already there. Yet, when we read the first two verses of the Bible, it tells us that in the beginning, the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Before a single thing was created, the Spirit of God was present. Then, this very same Spirit was set into motion forming all of creation. Throughout all of Scripture, the Spirit of God is active performing miracles, guiding prophets and leaders, raising Jesus from the dead, entering the believers at Pentecost, and is promised to fill the earth and all believers until the second coming of Christ.
If we believe as we say we do, then why do we feel the need to ask God to show up? If we believe God is who he says he is and does what he says he will do, then shouldn’t we be believing and living as if God is already here? If we believe God is the good, good Father that we sing about in our worship, then shouldn’t we approach him as One who keeps his word?
Church, we need to choose our words more carefully when we speak about the Sovereign Creator of our earth, the God of all eternity, in Whom and by Whom all things have been created. Wrong language breeds incorrect thought which leads to poor action.
Said a different way, God does not need to show up nor does he need to be asked to show up. God is already here, has been here, and will continue to be here.
It is you who needs to show up.
God has been waiting on humanity since Genesis 3 and the first moment when Adam and Eve hid from him in the garden. From that moment on, Scripture is a constant back and forth story of God giving commands, humanity saying, “nah, I got this” and then crawling back to God saying, “wait, actually, I could use your help.”
In all of Scripture, I do not see a moment where God leaves. I read that God is silent, I read that he gives people over to their sinful desires, I even see instances where humanity cries out, “where are you, Lord?” But, in every response to that cry, I never see that God has left. He was always present, ready and waiting for humanity to show up.
So, Church, it’s time. You need to show up.
God does not need to show up for Ahmaud Arbery. He was there for Ahmaud the same way he was there for Sandra, Alton, Philando, Trayvon, and sadly, so many others. God did not let these people down. God did not forget these people. God was not silent on these matters. You did. You were.
Do you want justice? Show up. And, keep showing up. Then relentlessly, unceasingly, and constantly show up some more.
A good friend of mine always says that if you want to know the character of God, look at Jesus. Jesus wept when he encountered death. He sought the marginalized and gave them hope. He spoke when those with societal privilege silenced the voices of people around them. He crossed into the lands that people avoided, he touched the people society said were unclean, and he elevated the people the world said were unworthy. Then, he sent his Spirit to all believers with the statement that, “you will do these things and more.” These are his commands.
So, Church, do these things. And more.
Show up for a Be the Bridge group or pick up Latasha Morrison’s book to start educating yourself on how you can move towards racial reconciliation. Attend the Absurd Conference when it comes back around this October and focuses on Kingdom Diversity and reconciliation. Educate yourself on our nation’s history and systems of oppression; the things that were left out of our elementary school textbooks. Watch the full version of Dr. MLK, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech instead of just the clips posted every February. Read Letter from the Birmingham Jail, Unsettling Truths, Prophetic Lament, and Many Colors. Then, show up for organizations like Tiqvah Hands of Hope, Lighthouse Ministries, Chester’s Mop Shop, 3rd Street Community Church, Reach1, Citizens Akron, The Well, StarkFresh, Mount Olive Baptist, etc. who are doing the work of reconciliation and pouring into the youth and our communities right here in northeast Ohio. Show up with your time. Show up with your resources. Show up with an open heart and no preconceived ideas.
God has already done the work of showing up and setting an example. Now, Church, it’s your turn. It’s our turn. Every single one of us. It’s time to fix our language, repair our view of who God is therefore repairing our view of all humanity, and start showing up. Relentlessly, unceasingly, and constantly showing up.