Some people get defensive when they hear the phrase “Black Lives Matter.” It leads to questions like “Don’t all lives matter?” or to signs reading “Blue Lives Matter.” As if it is somehow a competition.
During this week of turmoil and pain following the murder of George Floyd, I have read explanations regarding the phrase “Black Lives Matter.” One story describes a neighborhood home on fire. When the fire trucks arrive, no one expects them to pour water on all the houses in the neighborhood; they focus on the crisis at hand and tend to the endangered home. “Black Lives Matter” remind us that black lives are in danger and must be consciously protected.
Another story was inspired by the biblical tale of one wandering sheep who left the flock. The shepherd searches for the lost sheep which leads the remaining sheep to question, “Hey! What about us? Aren’t you concerned about us?” To which the shepherd replies, “Yes, of course I care about you. But right now, this one is in danger and needs my help.”
It breaks my heart that it is necessary to say the words, “black lives matter.” I wish it was obvious that – of course – black lives matter. Of course they have value. Of course they should be treated fairly and with respect. But that is not the case in our country. And so it must be said out loud – Black Lives Matter.
Jesus led a life that proclaimed, “Your life matters.” No matter who you are, you are precious in God’s sight. No matter what you look like, no matter who you love, no matter what mistakes you have made – you are a reflection of God’s divine image and you matter.
Jesus lives that message. He seeks out those who have been tossed aside by society. He shares meals with outcasts. He heals people that make the rest of society uncomfortable. He talks with a woman who is about to be put to death and saves her from judgmental wrath that can shun, hurt, and kill.
Jesus looks at people ignored by others and says to them, “I see you. I know you. I care about you.”
What if we believed Jesus’ message? What if we looked in the mirror and said, “Your life matters”? What if we allowed ourselves the forgiveness and grace that God offers? What if we really believed in new life and resurrection and the Good News that God will help us begin again and again, no matter what mistakes we have made.
What if we looked at one another and proclaimed, “Your life matters. Your life matters because God says it does. Your life matters because you are a beloved child of God. Your life matters because you are filled with the essence of the eternal and everlasting God.”
If we believed that, would we then treat all of God’s children with dignity and respect?