Unity or Prophetic Resistance?
This week a diverse group of pastors in Sacramento, many of whom I know personally and deeply respect, released a video extending calls for unity and speaking out against division and discord. Presumably, this video was in response to the current political and religious climate. I would like to offer a different take on what this current moment requires of us, especially white Evangelical leaders.
Many Christians, myself included, would agree that love, unity, and reconciliation are at the heart of the gospel. However, God did not call for us to be unified at the expense of those who are marginalized and oppressed. Rather, we are called to disrupt injustice through prophetic resistance.
Calls for love and unity, like the recent video in Sacramento, rarely (if ever) offer prophetic resistance to the massive injustices that are happening to our neighbors and in our communities. Racial profiling. Mass incarceration. Police brutality. Terrorizing immigrant communities with raids, deportations, and indefinite detention. Ignoring and assaulting the rights of Native tribes and people. Refugees being turned away. Islamophobia. Anti-semitism. Discrimination based on sexuality and gender. Environmental racism. The list is long.
If we're just talking about political differences, then calls for unity make sense. However, an ever increasing climate of injustice, oppression, and discrimination is being framed as religious and political disagreements. This conveniently side steps the real issues. Unity in diversity is a wonderful and Godly thing. However, unity that maintains injustice is not.
The division we are seeing did not begin with protestors and dissenters. It began with white supremacy and racism. Acts of resistance are the essence of love, as they help shine light on the darkness-a darkness too many of us want to minimize, ignore, or deny.
In this current moment, the solution is not to focus exclusively on being unified as the body of Christ. Rather, we must embody God's love by having the courage to confront injustices, including an oppressive status quo in and outside the church. And when we engage in prophetic resistance against injustice, there will inevitably be division and discord. An oppressive status quo, especially when cloaked in religious language, will not go quietly.
God's love emboldens us to pursue racial justice for our neighbors on the margins. God's love drives us to actively challenge the evils of systemic racism and oppression. And when we have the courage to risk it all for the call of Christ in this regard, then we will know true unity in Christ.