#BlackLivesMatter or #AllLivesMatter ?

My wife is a teacher. As a teacher, she wants to ensure that all of the children in her classes are treated equally and fairly. However, she has discovered over the years that “treating fairly” does not mean “treating the same.” She has learnt that if the gap is to be closed for boys then hard work is needed there to focus on their specific needs. Each week she will work with pupils who need additional help and time.

This might help us understand the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag a little better.  Today, I came across this tweet online:

The writer is absolutely correct to say that Paul’s ethnic pride was buried with his old self. Paul says this:

“I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law,[c] blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ”[1]

However, remember that this is the same Paul that said this.

“Speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers,[a] my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”[2]

Yes, Paul would happily say #JewishLivesMatter.  Yet he would not stop there and here is the point. The slogan #BlackLivesMatter is not intended as an exclusive statement. The idea is not that only black lives matter. Rather we might see it as a punchier version of “Black Lives Matter TOO.” In other words, in a context where black people have experienced exploitation and injustice, the plea is “don’t forget about us.”The

Yet even more powerful still than Paul’s concern for his own people was his passionate commitment to see Gentiles brought into the kingdom. The consequence of his realisation that the Gospel was for all to hear, the consequence of his ethnic pride being buried was that he had a particular concern for those who were outside of his people group. Paul could say #GentileLivesMatter.In order to show that all lives mattered, Paul chose to prioritise a particular group of people so that they were not left out from the Gospel. The Jews had come to believe that God’s good news was just for them, that they were spiritually superior, that their Law gave them special access to God because it made them more deserving. The Gospel message that we are saved by grace alone and justified by faith, receiving Christ’s forgiveness and righteousness as a free gift cuts through that pride. If as a white pastor, I am to see my ethnic pride buried then it will result in a passionate concern for others beyond my ethnic tribe. When I hear someone saying “Black lives matter too.” It won’t put my hackles up. I won’t quickly respond by saying “All lives matter.” I will say “You are right, they do. And I am sorry for forgetting that.”

See also this short talk:

[1] Philippians 3:4-8.

[2] Romans 9 1-5.

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