A Letter to the Masses (Guest Post: Rev. James Briggs)

In light of the killings of Terence Crutcher and Keith L. Scott, and as part of this ongoing series, The Trauma of Racism I want to introduce a good friend and brother who can speak to these challenges in ways that I cannot. It is my privilege to count James as a friend, brother, and co-worker in the Kingdom. To those who have ears, let them hear. (Note: I have posted James' letter without any changes. Emphasis in the enlarging and emphasizing of text is exclusively mine.)

The Rev. James Briggs currently serves as Senior Pastor of the Daybreak Metropolitan Church at Addison in Addison, Texas.  His Gospel ministry career spans over 20 years. He holds a BS degree from Oklahoma Christian University and an MDiv degree from Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. His published thesis was entitled Kingdom Building and Kingdom Seeking: Creating that God Ordained Space Where All Of Humanity Can Dwell. He is currently working to complete a book about the spiritual disciplines he employed during his time of discernment prior to starting a new ministry in the DFW Metroplex.  The title of that work is Lyrics Leading to The Launch: Memoirs of a Minister's Meditations Expressed through Original Psalms. In his spare time, James enjoys reading, going to the movies and watching professional sports.  He currently resides in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area with the love of his life Mrs. Evette Sophia-Navedo.

Dearly Beloved,

It is my honest hope and sincere prayer that you receive the message of this letter with both an open mind and open heart.  There is so much grief that fills our cities today.  This is a consequence of the tremendous amount of hate that fills the hearts of men and women in our country.  The vicious attacks and hate crimes committed against people of color have far exceeded epic proportions.  There have been so many names that we've come to speak and so many lives that we've come to learn of all because these individuals merely offended or dare I say "threatened" the wrong person with their melanated skin. 

I was raised in a home that taught me to value and respect my blackness.  Over the course of my lifetime, I've come to discover that no matter how much I valued and respected the color of my skin, there would still be many others who would refuse to value and respect me as a part of God's divine creation.  Thankfully my black father taught me that my worth is not appraised according to another person's value system.  The assessment of my value as a part of God's creation was produced long ago.  God took time to make me [Ps 139.14]. As a child, I was doubly blessed, because my black mother would make a point to constantly remind me of how crucial it is to always carry myself with a form of dignity that would make it known to others that I have respect for myself.  These lessons that my parents taught me and my two other siblings have really blessed me in a myriad of ways.  I treasure these lessons from my childhood because they have helped me to maintain both my sanity and integrity when I see groups and organizational structures designed to eliminate people of color and make us extinct.  The divine detail given to the creation process is not one to be taken lightly. 

It is most unfortunate, however, that God did not make the melanin in black people's skin strong enough to repel bullets in the same fashion that it protects against ultraviolet rays from the sun. 

The devastating events that have taken place in recent weeks have affirmed one thing that I've long suspected.  It is time for the Christian Church to do what it was purposed to do from the very beginning.  It is time for the Church to unite and take action against the spiritual wickedness in high places [Ephesians 6.12].  Churches around the country can't continue to sit back and watch the "few" fight against the "many" and still expect a victory. 

Social Justice issues are not issues that the Church should view as an elective course in undergraduate school. 

It is the most critical area of ministry, because it was that area of ministry that Christ dedicated his life and work to during his earthly ministry.  Jesus made it his business to address the hard issues of his day without any hesitation even though he knew what it would ultimately cost him.

The Church must never shy away from the work that must be done because of fear of the high cost. God has forever been on the side of the oppressed [Psalm 9.9]. Therefore, the Creator expects the redeemed to pay whatever costs must be paid.

The problems that we see today will not go away if the Church continues to take a weak position against these heinous crimes of racial hatred. There are individuals who have been sworn to protect and serve all people, but they instead have terrorized and murdered a specific group of people. 

This is the time for the Universal Church to leave its laurels and join the Black Church in this warfare against the many grotesquely perverted forms of faith which stem from racism. Hashtags on social media, lunch break conversations, and a handful of sermons on certain Sundays won't remedy this infectious disease. 

While these are nice gestures and deeds done by people with good intentions, these acts simply aren't intentional enough.  A true prophetic move of power is one that points to the problem and demands a solution.  Active involvement in communities through partnerships with awareness and activist groups is key to causing the change that we need in our country. 

This prophetic move of power can be both made and felt when the Church decides that God's nearness needs to be experienced by all people in all places.  The Church has to band together, speak up, and step up.  The Church can do this.  The Church must do this. 

In God's grip,