Back in September, Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, was walking to his car with his hands up when he was shot by Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby. This incident was captured on video by both a police dash cam and an aerial video from a police helicopter wherein Shelby’s husband, a fellow officer who was overlooking the scene, profiles Crutcher and calls him a ‘bad dude.’
Yesterday, Shelby was acquitted of first degree manslaughter.
I’m a minister in a Progressive Baptist Church in Oklahoma, and, almost immediately, my ministerial colleagues went online and started talking about the need to pray in response to the injustice of the verdict. Some even said that this is a unique opportunity to forgive Shelby, and, thereby, show the love of Jesus Christ. Many of them went so far as to ask what would Jesus do when faced with these circumstances. Their assumption is that Jesus would calmly be comfortable with injustice. I disagree. Many Christians find themselves lost when they are confronted with injustice. They assume that God wants them to be passive and overly spiritual when staring in the face of evil; yet, when I look at the story of Jesus, I see 10 things we can all do in response to injustices like the Shelby verdict that Jesus would, unquestionably, be comfortable with.
1: Drink Alcohol
Because, after all Jesus did turn water into wine in John 2: 1-11. I need some spirits to soothe my soul—and I’m not talking about any holy ones.
In Matthew 21: 18-22, Jesus curses a fig tree. I can curse all I want in response to this Darth Susan getting off. It’s better I get it out than hold it inside. After all, as my Jesuit seminary professor taught me, cursing is spiritual catharsis—it cleanses the soul.
Jesus was wilding in the temple in John 2:15. He pulled out whips and was beating niggas’s asses. His motivation was the injustice he saw in the temple. I can riot in response to similar injustice in the streets.
As the above shows, Jesus was not above laying hands. In fact, in Matthew 10:34, he said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”
Translation: Punks that jump up can get beat down—in Jesus name.
Too many black folks think that being a Christian means that we have to be quick to forgive. Jesus does not say this. In fact, in Romans 12:15, the Bible says we are to, “weep with those who weep.” That is, empathy is important. If we are callous to the suffering of others, then we need to reexamine our relationship with God. Further, it is important to not tell people how to mourn.
Because John 11: 35, “Jesus Wept,” is the verse everyone knows.
7: Sit alone in silence
In Luke 5: 15-16, Jesus withdrew to be alone. Sometimes, we do not know what so Say, Jesus modeled for us how to be alone and tarry with difficulties.
8: Express anger
Jesus would be comfortable with anger. In fact, in Ephesians 4: 26, the Bible says Be ye angry, and sin not. Anger is an appropriate response to injustice.
9: Say that Black Lives Matter
In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus tells the stories of sheep and goats. It’s a metaphor for his followers who have concern for others and those who do not. When the goats say, “‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not care for You?” He responds by saying, “inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.”
Black folks in this country have, consistently, been the ‘least of these.’ From decrepit schools to the new Jim Crow, we are the left out and the forgotten in America’s democratic experiment. I have no doubt that Jesus would boldly declare, in response to these injustices, that Black Lives Matter. If you have beef with that declaration, your problem is not with me, it’s with Jesus.
Because once I’ve prayed with my hands and my feet, I should certainly pray with my heart—but it will not be for their forgiveness. It’ll be that I don’t whip their ass.