A Message on Social Justice

Monday, June 8, 2020

To the Beloved Family of God,

I write to you as one whose heart breaks. It breaks for the loss of George Floyd’s life, it breaks for his children who are now forced to walk without a father, and it breaks for our many brothers and sisters for whom this man’s death has ripped opened wounds that don’t seem to heal. On May 25th, George Floyd died while being taken into police custody. Since that day videos have emerged, stories have been told, and arrests have been made that testify to the type of death this man died. He was murdered. I hope that you join me in both mourning the loss of this innocent life and condemning its taking.

Over the course of the last two weeks, I have watched as people have reacted in different ways to this senseless killing. The reactions have run the gamut from heartbreak to indifference and even defensiveness. The polarized state of our society has been on full display, as some question the validity of the protests and others have joined in. Within our law enforcement community, we have seen both brutality that has furthered the pain, and acts of compassion and solidarity which have served to ease it. While I cannot claim to be an expert on the African American experience in America, I can see, hear, and feel pain when it is presented before my eyes. This evident pain should be testimony enough for us that there is a present and real problem in our society.

As I, and our Board of Ministers, reflected on our current situation, we concluded that racism, injustice, and division are issues we share with our broader society. We, God’s community and ambassadors to the world, are often guilty of mirroring society rather than testifying to an alternative plan. Further, we conclude that we have a role to play in addressing the issue. Christ, who walked among us, suffered like us, died for us, and has been raised to glory acted in history for you and for me, and for our brothers and sisters who currently suffer.

As a people of faith, we know that the cries of the oppressed are heard by God and are cited as reason enough to act. For example, in Exodus 2:23-25 we are told that the people Israel cried out for help and “God heard their groaning.” Hearing the groans of His people brought His covenant with them to the forefront of God's mind, and moved Him to action. The author of Psalm 10 in verses 16-18 gives a second testimony to this truth. The cries of the afflicted are indeed heard and move God’s heart to act.

As followers of Jesus, we know that He commands us to allow love to rule in our hearts and minds (Luke 10:27). The type of love that Jesus refers to is not a sentimental love. Rather, it is a love that seeks the good for others without expectation of return. God’s love required that Jesus, the Christ, lay down his rights and live a life of perfect obedience, even to death on the cross. Love, God’s love, the love Christ, calls us to live as our guiding impulse is by its nature sacrificial.

I know that for some of us, questions of injustices and the Black Lives Matter movement linger. Further, I want to acknowledge that for many this is a deeply political matter. I understand these perspectives and I appreciate your right to hold them. However, I would suggest that in order to practice Christ’s mandate to love, we all might set our rights aside and simply listen to the cries of the oppressed — that in our listening we might seek the truth in their experience and be moved to action. After all, as a people of faith we are called to represent a God who has done just that.

Grace and Peace.

Your Brother in Christ,

Rev. Reed D. Webster

Pastor, Cedar Hills Baptist Church

2470 SW Roxbury Avenue

Cell 541.520.7849 Office 503.646.7126