In the raw pain of writing about CJ’s death a few weeks back (“The Death and Life of an Imagine-bearer”), I could not communicate all I wanted to say with clarity. Here is an attempt to connect the dots.

This is an honest effort meant to address difficult issues of race and culture. Talk will be frank and, hopefully, filled with love. I may say the wrong things … that is the risk when one attempts to address important issues.

First, the original post was one part confession.

I haven’t always truly grieved for the lives lost in New Orleans, though I often felt that I did. CJ’s death shook me and showed me what it truly means to grieve with the mothers and families of the victims of violence. I am not suggesting that I can feel the same loss for someone I don’t know, but I can choose to grieve with those experiencing loss.

For our country to experience true racial reconciliation, some things must change. Black people need people of other backgrounds to grieve over the losses in their our community. As I wrote “their” community, I cringed and changed it. I left the strike through to illustrate how difficult it is to keep the right mindset and to show that I am not saying, “I have arrived.”

My black brothers and sisters in Christ have expressed hurt and confusion over how white Christians sometimes react to a black person’s violent death. White people tend to take a “wait and see” attitude toward high profile shootings or violence. We want to gather facts and draw conclusions. Can we grieve even before we know all the facts? Can we weep over a life lost? Each one is an image-bearer. In a place like New Orleans, or Chicago, or St. Louis there will be much grief.

Second, I hinted at this, but I wanted to spell this out – grief is not an end unto itself. I think our grief should include hope and action. Get involved at a school. Help with an afterschool program. Do something that puts you in contact with people who are different than you and just love them. Watch how God opens doors to ministry for you.

Third, I hinted at this as well, but I want to make it even clearer. Our concern for black people is a gospel issue. I cannot share the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ with black people after my actions imply that they do not matter. And in the church … I can wound my Christian brothers and sisters when I don’t support their aspirations, empathize with their hurts, and rejoice with their triumphs.

Photo by Mark Solarski at

2 thoughts on “Gaining Clarity and Hope

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