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Reparations: WWJD?

Previously posted in 2019

Happy Juneteenth! In honor of black history and the vast accomplishments we've made as a group of people (and because I don't have as much time on my hands to write like I wish I could), I want to re-publish this post I wrote last year. Instead of using this platform to lament and mourn our history, I hope this moment can turn eyes to the future. I'll never forget the past, but I believe our ancestors fought for our freedom so we can make the present a future history we can be proud of.

"Holding a grudge does not hurt the person against whom the grudge is held, it hurts the one who holds it." ~ Booker T. Washington


Would Jesus be fighting for reparations for American slavery?

The short answer: No. And here's why.

Jesus is the most well-known figure in history for many reasons, one of which being His message of love and grace.

It's everywhere in the Bible. It's everything He did. And it makes sense. Sick people, poor people, down-and-out people, they should be treated with kindness and mercy. That resonates with us the same way it did with everyone who lived during the time of Jesus' ministry. But go a layer deeper, as Jesus shares, and things can get a little uncomfortable.

"'But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.'" Luke 6:27-28 (NKJV)

The Avengers make really good movies, but the idea of "avenging" doesn't work so well in reality.

"'Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. 'I'll do the judging,' says God. 'I'll take care of it.'" Romans 12:17-19 (MSG)

Remember when Peter slashed the ear off a guy who was with the group tasked to arrest Jesus on the night before His death? For the average reader, avenging the attempted murder of a dear friend seems like a logical reaction. But what did Jesus do? He healed the man and told Peter to relax. He didn't snap his fingers and call on the legions of angels to smite the evildoers from the earth. He knew God was in control.

Jesus was a living example of 1 Corinthians 13.

"Love is patient, love is kind... it keeps no record of wrongs." v. 4a,5b (NIV).

Jesus literally kept no record of wrongs. No grudges. No chips on His shoulder. Nothing! Even when it all came down to the point of His death on the cross, he begged God for forgiveness on the murderers' behalf! After being mauled, mocked, and mortified, He poured grace on people who didn't deserve any of it. He was love.

As Christians, we are called to follow His example. Jesus' lasting legacy isn't one of retaliation. It isn't one of reparations. It's one that proliferates the entire world, sharing the gospel of truth. We're here to spread that gospel. We're not exacting revenge on the descendants of the Roman soldiers and Pharisees that killed Jesus 2,000 years ago.

Jesus knew that God was, is, and will always be the God of ultimate justice. In the end, He balances the scales. The biggest takeaway from our history of slavery is that we're no longer there! We, Americans, are so far away from that season of injustice. Stop reliving it. Stop using it to define everything about who we are, what we need, and who we can become.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 (NKJV)


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