There has been a lot of discussion about some hashtags over the last couple of weeks. Today, I want to weigh in on a few of them. I have heard from some of my social media connections that they have a problem with the #BlackLivesMatter. They feel #AllLivesMatter is more appropriate, and they argue the Gospel of Jesus Christ is lost by putting the focus on Black lives. The conversation got me to reflect this weekend about the hashtags I have seen the most lately. Here are my thoughts on four of them:
Number 1: #AllLivesMatter
#AllLivesMatter is a given. We know all lives matter. Humans are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26). The breath we draw each day is a gift from God, and we are precious in his sight. So valuable, he gave his only son as a sacrifice, paying the sin debt we carry, so that all who believe in Him would inherit eternal life. All lives do matter. The authors of the Declaration of Independence confirmed it (in word at least) writing, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” However, some lives are snuffed out by those sworn to protect and serve us without consequence. And it begins to feel like those lives do not matter all that much. So, maybe #BlackLivesMatterToo would better convey the sentiment, but I think the “Too” is implied. It is never suggested that ONLY Black lives matter. Nor is it suggested that Black lives matter MORE. It merely means, in the grand scheme of things, it does not appear black lives matter as much as the rest. We need to call attention to it and change it because all lives should matter.
Number 2: #BlackLivesMatter
#BlackLivesMatter is reflective of the Gospel. I have heard the argument made that we should not emphasize black lives. Other races are killed unjustly by police. All lives matter. We need to stop protesting and sharing the Gospel more because Jesus is the answer. Yes, other races are killed unjustly by the police. Why nobody has started a protest or a hashtag for those lives, I do not know. It seems #AllLivesMatter, but people do not want to make any noise about it unless someone says #BlackLivesMatter. Yes, we need to share the Gospel more. I find it interesting that a lot of Christians are quick to offer evangelism as the answer to the problem when other efforts make them uncomfortable, but on an ordinary day, aren’t sharing the Gospel at all other than, “You should come to my church.” Yes, Jesus is the answer. I believe #BlackLivesMatter falls right in line with the pattern of Jesus’ life. It was Jesus who pointed out that Samaritan lives mattered. He pointed out that Gentile lives mattered. Jewish lives, Children’s lives, women’s lives, lepers’ lives, tax collector lives all mattered. In John 5, Jesus comes to a pool at Bethesda, surrounded by “five roofed colonnades” (Jn. 5:2). “In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed,” (Jn. 5:3). In this group of people in despair, Jesus saw a man who had been paralyzed for thirty-eight years and had no one to help him into the pool when the waters stirred. Jesus healed that man, probably after stepping over many others. In his divine way, Jesus let that man know his life mattered. Could you imagine the disciples crying out, “All these lives matter! Why are you singling him out?” Jesus had compassion for the oppressed. He had no problem being their mouthpiece, their healer and laying down his life as their savior. Jesus knew there are times you must leave the ninety-nine to rescue the one (Lk. 15). In those times, the ninety-nine matter, but it’s about the one.
Number 3: #MAGA
#MAGA is racist. President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan and mantra over the last four years is inherently racist. I recognized it from the moment I heard it, and it still makes my skin crawl today. To be clear, I love America. I am proud to be an American citizen. While our relatively short history has not been perfect, the opportunities and freedoms of the American ideal are far better than many countries around the world. When I hear “Make America Great Again,” the first question that comes to mind is, “Great for who?” The reality is America has not been great for everybody. From my perspective, I would have said, in 2015, “America is getting better,” but it took a step backward in 2016. In my adult life, I’ve always known of Donald Trump as a rich, racist jerk incapable of caring about anyone not on his economic level. I did not think there was any way in the world he would ever be President of the United States. His #MAGA rallying cry struck a chord with enough of the right people to put him there. Every American citizen should be able to get behind someone who wants to make America great. Right? The phrase isn’t Make America Great. That’s a statement I can get behind.
The “Again” makes it problematic at best. When looking at the history of America, it has only ever been great for rich, white men. I hear Trump’s mantra as “put men like me back on top.” Trump took the ascension of Barack Obama, a black man, as a personal affront to his sensibilities. Trump invented “presidential harassment” via Twitter, perpetuated the “birther” conspiracy for the entirety of Obama’s two terms in office. Even now, three and a half years into his administration, Trump is still taking shots and deflecting blame toward Obama. Yet, there is hope. The events of the past couple of weeks have picked up some momentum on the civil rights front. President Trump continues to add fuel to the fire, and his efforts just might push Americans to make America great.
Number 4: #JusticeforBreonna
Breonna Taylor was murdered in her home by police serving an arrest warrant for someone who was already in police custody. Was it a mistake? Maybe. But a mistake that put eight bullets in a young black woman’s body, cutting her life short, could be murder. We will not know until those who killed her are arrested and given a trial. George Floyd’s death has received a lot of attention (primarily because of cell phone video), but his death is not the only unjust killing at the hands of police in the last few months. Breonna Taylor will not receive justice. Those who knew her and loved her can. Until that happens, we must keep her name in the spotlight. The way these things have gone in the past—we get outraged, they hear us out, they calm us down, and we all go on about our business—can not be the case here. If I am shot to death in my home by those who should be protecting me, and there are no arrests made, I hope those who know me and love me will keep my name out there and demand justice so until arrests are made, #JusticeforBreonna.