The following article by Rick Lance, Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions executive director, was originally posted on June 4, 2020. Since then, it has also been affirmed by the officers of the Alabama Baptist State Convention: Tim Cox, president (pastor, Liberty Baptist Church, Chelsea); Buddy Champion, first vice president (pastor, First Baptist Church, Trussville); Morgan Bailey, second vice president (pastor, Macedonia Baptist Church, Ranburne). It has also been affirmed by officers of the trustees of the State Board of Missions: Greg Corbin, chair (pastor, Lakeside Baptist Church, Birmingham); Mel Johnson, vice chair (lead mission strategist, Autauga Baptist Association, Prattville).
Like so many others, I am heartsick concerning the recent ugly events which have highlighted the sin of racism among us. As one who remembers the civil rights movement and the various efforts by people of the past and present seeking the breakdown of racial barriers that have plagued our society, I grieve over the images of African American people being killed by law enforcement officers and vigilantes.
I have had some meaningful dialogue with African American brethren who have shared with me their sorrow over these events. The conversations have been potent and personal. They have helped me consider the continuing concerns that we should have in “loving one another as Christ loved us.”
The following thoughts come from the flawed heart of one who has been saved by God’s grace. I do not wish to be either a social commentator or a partisan in a highly polarized time in our nation. Here is my personal credo concerning racism:
1. I value each life as a precious gift from God. Far too many times, we have seen images on television and in other media outlets which depict life as being disposable and lacking in value. Everyone of all races and backgrounds is made in the image of God! Those words should never be considered as “cheap talk” but as an unchanging and non-negotiable core value.
2. I want to express the fact that I condemn racism in any form. I remember well the civil rights movement decades ago. Progress in race relations seems to have improved, but much work is left to be done. I have heard the words of Simon Peter echoing in my mind as of late, “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). He is a God who does not show partiality toward people. He created every life! He wishes to redeem people too!
3. I believe in the right of people to peacefully protest against wrongdoing in our society. People who peacefully protest are seeking to send a message. As an American, that is the right of every citizen. However when people choose to turn violence toward others, then those committing violence do not contribute to the betterment of our way of life. Their actions are wrong and cannot be seen as acceptable in a civil society.
4. Like you, I want to see better race relations. I would like for us to build upon the contributions of those made in the past. I would say a hearty amen to what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” In that spirit, I want to be a person of the Light and of God’s love.