So the king did not listen to the people

The picture attached to this post is one that is very encouraging, and there are many examples of this going around in the country. Police officers are kneeling, praying and marching with protestors to show that they hear and understand the cries of racial injustice. That’s what we need.

Here is a contrast in Scripture to that positive example. The following is what NOT to do when you are in positions of authority.

In the Scripture below, we see that there was a time in Israel when people came to the leadership and cried out about oppression. The people came to King Rehoboam, son of King Solomon, and presented their case.

Their “yoke” was heavy. Solomon apparently had really taxed the people to the point of oppression, and the people wanted relief. They peacefully came to the King to ask for change.

The King, Rehoboam, had two sets of advisors. One group counseled the king to be a servant to the people and be kind to them. Hear their requests and serve them, and they will serve you forever. The other group of counselors advised the King to be even tougher than Solomon. Bring the hammer down on the people, they said.

So, the king listened to the second group, threatened the people, punished them for speaking up and pushed them away. This led to the nation literally dividing (as God had prophesied would happen).

“So the king did not listen to the people…”

What does God want from his leaders? People who listen. Those who hear the cries of the hurting. It’s one thing for those in authority to say they aren’t racist, it is entirely another when a police officer lays down his baton, takes off his helmet and hugs those in the crowd who are hurting and afraid.

Rehoboam had the opportunity to sit down and listen to the request of his people. He had been offered an olive branch to peacefully bring a resolution to what was hurting the nation. However, in his arrogance and in his thirst to assert his authority and dominance, he drove most of the nation away from him.

That is our choice as leaders. As parents. As spouses. As church leaders. As leaders in business. As leaders in the community. When those under our leadership cry out from broken hearts because of how they are being treated, how will we respond?

Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. And as soon as Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it (for he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from Egypt. And they sent and called him, and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam, “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you.” He said to them, “Go away for three days, then come again to me.” So the people went away. Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” And they said to him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.” But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him. And he said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put on us’?” And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you lighten it for us,’ thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s thighs. And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’” So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, “Come to me again the third day.” And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel that the old men had given him, he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD that he might fulfill his word, which the LORD spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
(1 Kings 12:1-15)

Do You See This Woman?

Luke 7:44 – Do you see this woman?

Here are two sisters in Christ who are African American. What they are going to say might make you uncomfortable. Many of us have lived in denial and dismissal that racism still exists, but have we listened to our black brothers and sisters in Christ? Have we asked them what they think and what their viewpoint is?

Take some time to watch this video by sister Nikki Lee and by sister Tranae Felicien. Hear their pain. As you can see in the above verse, Jesus had to get the Simon the Pharisee to stop for a minute and get out of his safe and comfortable box of prejudice to see the woman who came in to anoint Jesus. Today Jesus wants us to listen, to truly see others and to hear their pain.

Sister Nikki Lee’s heartfelt call to see her and her son and her husband for what they are enduring.

 

Here is sister Tranae Felicien’s post on how hurt she is by the blindness and dismissal she had witnessed from her brothers and sisters in Christ.

Written by Tranae Felicien

When there was a death from systemic racism, I used to feel pressure to end a post on a hopeful note about the future of America. But I’ve stopped holding my breath that America, as a society, will ever rid itself of its racism. Part of my evidence lies in the life experiences I and my community have survived. Part of my evidence lies in the years I’ve been on the incredibly illuminating social media apps.

I see your posts about Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. I see the ones who have decided to use their pages to educate. But I also see the ones who have only posted about the looting or only to say “not all cops”. I see the people commenting “I am with you” but your pages are silent. And I’ll see your silence about Trump greenlighting shooting his own people over property.

I see those who have posted about mask requirements being a denial of rights but never about racism. I see your posts about abortion but never about racism’s fatalities. I see the posts that are scared to say racism but resort to general admonitions of love. I see the people that say “all we can do is pray.” I see the people who continue to be confused at the way black people are treated in this country, but between this week’s comment and the last, they didn’t care enough to Google.

I saw your posts about Michelle Obama being a transgender woman. I saw your posts about Obama causing a “race war”, blaming a black man for people being fed up with racism. I saw your dismissals of past black viral tragedies, even those on video (Botham Jean, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile to name a few). I saw you dismiss deaths as isolated incidents though DOJ investigations found patterns of discrimination within entire police forces.

I saw you say Blue Lives Matter when the spotlight was on black lives. I saw you rant about Colin Kaepernick’s non-violent, peaceful protest. I’ve seen the people who selectively quote MLK and the Bible to try to instruct black people not to cause trouble. Yet, you ignored quotes about condemnation for injustice and passiveness in the face of discrimination. I saw you try to excuse past Americans for slavery, as if they even cared about their descendants’ opinions of the way they dealt with their “property.” I saw you get heated about a dead flag of traitors literally fighting for the continued enslavement of black people.

What is the point of this post? Simply to let you know I see you. You may have been able to live your life in ignorance of racism’s pervasiveness but I have not. This is not a post to beg you to change. It’s a post to take you out of your comfort zone, the comfort zone I’ve never had being black in this country.

Some of you will start or continue to work for an actively anti-racist society. Some of you will post “in solidarity” but never examine yourself and your circle. Some of you will be upset that I’m not acknowledging private emotional disturbances from these newest fatalities, yet not see the reason why I don’t care if you felt bad briefly for others but said/did nothing about an issue every can affect in ways big or small. Some of you will think that racism is left in a few individuals and not ever contemplate that racism manifests in interactions less than death as it is systemic. Some of you will think black people continue to make all this up and will comfort yourselves with black voices who are paid to make you feel better.

Some of you may even look at this post and feel anger at me because you see yourself in some of my negative examples. Some of you may feel like I am not entitled to dictate what you post. You’d be right and also miss my point. Some of you may be upset that I’m making it seem like I have nothing to work on as a person, and you’d be incorrect as I am only addressing racism against black people. Again, you missed my point. Some of you may even find me ungrateful as I have had many amazing life experiences as a result of my family’s emigration here, having no knowledge of the price we paid in being just another black family here and the many black Americans denied my upbringing through the effects of racism. Some of you may find this post un-Christlike, but the white American version of Christianity that produces Christians more devoted to comfort than lessening injustices is a far departure from the Bible.

There are no congratulations in reaching the end of my post. But in parting, I leave a quote from MLK’s “The Other America” speech. And I want you to know that if you ever see my name trending because I’m victim of systemic racism, you’re going to see me fight back in that video. When the Lord welcomes me home, I’ll finally have an unburdened joy as no racists will be there.

 

The Apostles Listened and Didn’t Dismiss

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.
(Acts 6:1)

The horrible killing of George Floyd is just another reminder that hatred and racism is real in this country.

There was racial / ethic tension in the early church. It was real. Here is just one example.

Some widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. The Hebrew widows were doing just fine. They never missed a meal, and the Hebrews made sure their widows were well cared for. It was the Greek (Hellenist) Jews, whose widows were being overlooked.

The neglect, the favoritism, and the divide came to a head. The Hellenists cried out against the Hebrews because of the unfair treatment. “This isn’t right,” they said.

What did the apostles do? Did they dismiss the problem? Nope. Did they accuse the Hellenists of bad motives, of not being thankful, of creating a problem that doesn’t exist? Nope. Did they come back with “All Widows Matter.” Nope. Did they threaten and intimidate the Hellenists for speaking up? Nope.

What the apostles did first of all was listen. The leadership listened. They heard the cries of those who were being neglected and mistreated.

Secondly, they accepted that the problem was real and needed a godly solution. It was time to act.

Third they empowered the church, including those who were being mistreated to be part of the solution (Acts 6:3-6). Those who are in leadership and are reading this article, please, please, please see that it was the church, not the leadership, who selected the 7 men who would oversee the care of the widows. The apostles demonstrated confidence in the church to select who would take care of this issue. Notice that all 7 men had Greek names, not Hebrew ones (Acts 6:5). The group chose Greek (Hellenist) men to address the problem. Can you imagine us choosing an all-white panel to address racism in America?

These three basic things must be done today by our leaders, in churches, in business, and in America. Leaders have to listen, especially right now. Leaders cannot dismiss a problem that many people are consistently bringing up. Leaders have to empower people to be part of the solution.

Don’t get caught up in the reactions of some who are doing wrong and miss the hurt and pain of so many who are living what many of us have dismissed and don’t have to deal with on a daily basis.

Listen.

Don’t dismiss. Be part of the solution.

Empower others to be part of the solution.

Tomorrow, I’m going to post articles and videos from our sisters in Christ who are African American. Listen to them. Hear their pain and what they experience.