But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
It has become the elephant in many rooms. The thing you’re not supposed to talk about. As a nation, we’re supposed to be past this. And many mistakenly contend that we have, indeed, overcome the wiles of this tragic presence. Yet it is the thing that continues to claim lives. And more than just claiming life, this prickly monster takes lives. People literally kill in its name.
I’m talking about disparagement, discrimination, and persecution along the lines of race.
How are we, as people of faith, supposed to respond to a cycle of disappointment, disillusionment, and death by the hands of myopic racists? There are so many unanswered questions. There is what feels like a mountain of injustice. And there is a historical lineage of oppression that apparently goes unseen for people who don’t experience the remnants of this hard pressing on a regular basis.
It could make sense, and maybe even feel good, to get comfortable in our despair, reside in our frustration, and give up on a love that could disarm fear or free us from the burden of revenge. Relying on ourselves, we may not be able to recover from being crushed and crumbled.
But, through God, we contain a power that is not our own.
This power does not call us to bear the disproportionate responsibility to right the wrongs done to us. But this power says that in the presence of those wrongs we still stand. Though surrounded by carefully placed advertisements and popular images and school hair codes that suggest we are not beautiful, we resiliently recognize that we are wonderfully made. Though haunted by the stories of death, murder, and mayhem God gives us hope and a power of life that no one can kill. Jesus stands with us and identifies with this persecution and death.
I implore you to carry around the body of not only Jesus, but also those of Amadou and Sean and Aiyana and Trayvon and Jordan and Rekia and Kendrick and Jonathan and Renisha. Indeed, there are too many names. For this type of list to disappear and for justice to be done, let life be revealed in all of us.
Peace and Power,