All Lives Matter

By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  December 13, 2014

            This Sunday, many clergy from around the nation will be wearing black. It is a peaceful, unified, and simple message that life matters in this nation and our present way of living is challenging that priority of life in very serious—and deadly—ways.
            The Apostle Paul makes an urgent appeal in the fourth chapter of Ephesians to make sure our lives are lived in a way that is worth of our calling in Jesus Christ. Tragically, in our nation today, many Christians are failing to heed the call to Christ-like humility, patience, peace, and love that the Bible calls forth in those who proclaim the Divine Name. Ultimately, Ephesians reminds us, as Christians united in Jesus Christ, we are to be truly, fully, and intentionally one!
            As Christians, we must stand in solidarity with those who have borne the burden of oppression, inequality, and injustice. This call for unity is particularly difficult when our own life experience and worldview is so tremendously different from theirs that we find great difficulty even seeking common ground upon which to stand. That is where our shared faith in Jesus Christ becomes our common ground.
            Many years ago I moved to a new neighborhood in Lexington, Kentucky. My reasons were predominantly economic as I was a seminary student and could not afford housing in most areas of the city, so I rented a place that I could afford. It was a very nice apartment with wonderful neighbors and lots of kids that my daughter soon called friends.
            Shortly after moving in, I learned that there were serious economic and social penalties for living in that neighborhood. I tried to order some food to be delivered to my home and the restaurant informed me that they would not deliver because the drivers were not comfortable delivering there. I invited some of my people over for dinner and they would not come because they did not feel safe in that neighborhood after dark. I found several examples of flagrant discrimination and segregation simply because of where I lived.
            The fact that my family was the only white family in the entire neighborhood did not seem to bother my black neighbors. They welcomed us with open arms and loving hearts. The problem came from whites living outside of the neighborhood who relegated me to being “one of them” and were content to keep “their kind” in that section of town where “they belonged.”
            I also saw first-hand the serious devastation and desperation under which my neighborhood suffered. Poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, and—underlying all else—a prevailing sense of hopelessness. These were not bad people. In most cases, these were men and women with a deep, abiding, and Godly faith that inspired me. Yet, in the northern sections of the city of Lexington, many were trapped—trapped by economic inequality, trapped by geographic segregation, and trapped by unrealistic racial stereotypes.
            When the forth chapter of the book of Ephesians urgently calls us to reach out with humility, gentleness, patience, and bear one another with love, God is calling us to stand in solidarity with those who have suffered the most and are reeling in the pain of injustice, inequality, and a system that transcends generations with increasing oppression.
            Human life matters—regardless of where they live, the color of their skin, their age, their income, their criminal history, the religion they practice, or the people they love. The clergy who are wearing black tomorrow do so to intentionally call to mind the love of Christ that transcends the judgmental boundaries and divisive walls we have allowed our fears and misunderstandings to erect. We wear black because we love God and believe it is time for change.