Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book in 2000 called, THE TIPPING POINT. It was his first book, but became a bestseller, catapulting his career as a popular author and speaker and earning him as much as $40,000 per lecture. He defines the “tipping point” as “that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” He goes on to say, “Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate.” 1
What happened this past Monday in Minneapolis may have been a “tipping point.”
This past week, news came of a 56-year-old pastor in Georgia who had been arrested for soliciting a male prostitute. Every time a pastor has a failure like that it has an effect on the rest of us. But that doesn’t mean every other pastor is a failure. Nor does it preclude us from recognizing what that pastor did, calling it out for what it is and supporting the inevitable consequences of his choices.
What’s true for pastors is also true for police officers. I have the utmost respect for people in law enforcement and could never do what they do. I pray regularly for their safety and protection as they put their lives on the line every day to protect ours. We have more than 200 law enforcement officers in our church and I thank God for every one of them. When someone, somewhere in law enforcement fails, as with pastors, it affects everyone in law enforcement, but should not be used as an excuse for a broad brush indictment against everyone in law enforcement.
In an article for Baptist Press, Diana Chandler said, “Southern Baptist leaders are lamenting the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis after a white police officer used a knee to pin his neck to the pavement for several minutes.” 2
On Monday night the outcry from the Christian community was instant and urgent.
Dr. Tony Evans posted: “My heart breaks to witness yet another senseless loss of life. As believers in Christ, we must band together across racial lines to ensure justice is righteously served and a new environment for safety, equity and healing can be established.”
I posted what Tony had written and added: “I can’t say it any better than Tony. Going to bed praying for the family of George Floyd and for God to forgive us.”
On Tuesday morning I shared: “No words can change the actions of others. But our actions can change the world. And the church needs to lead the way. ‘Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being’ (Genesis 2:7),” along with a powerful blog from Pastor Eric Geiger (Mariners Church, Irvine, CA). I encourage you to read his blog here: https://ericgeiger.com/2020/05/ahmaud-arbery-george-floyd-and-gods-heart-for-justice/
Dr. Jack Graham wrote, “We cannot ignore the tragic death of George Floyd. The brokenness of a sinful world and violent humans cannot be tolerated. Silence is not an option. We condemn hate in all its forms and stand together to end injustice. For the love of God.”
Beth Moore tweeted, “Fellow whites who want Black Americans & PoC to receive equal justice & for egregious white supremacy to be dismantled, speak up. Don’t be fragile. You know what’s right. Expect: “You’re causing division!” Eye roll. “What about abortion??” I’m pro-ALL-life, conception to coffin. “You’re a liberal!” (Lib’s even better) Actually I’m a Jesus follower called to a gospel way too generous, glorious, graceful & everlasting to fit in the self serving confines of 2 parties. “You’ve been brainwashed.” My brain needed washing of anyway unlike the way of Christ. What I’m trying to say to you is this: be brave. This is about human decency. Dignity. Fairness. Rightness. JUSTICE. Toughen up and accept you’re going to be disliked for something. Make it something that counts. Let’s be the generation the intimidators can’t silence or tire out.”
Franklin Graham tweeted, “This makes me sick to my stomach. What took place yesterday on a Minneapolis street, by the @MinneapolisPD should deeply concern each & every American. It’s inexcusable. To watch a police officer kill an unarmed black man is so disturbing. Police are not judge & jury. These officers will stand before God & the authorities on this earth for what they did. Thankfully, this isn’t the story of every police department. Most law enforcement are servants who put their lives on the line to protect their communities. Pray for George Floyd’s family, loved ones, and friends, that God will put His loving arms around them and comfort them during this tragedy.”
Lee Strobel shared: “In this day of heightened racial tension, stoked by the outrageous killing of George Floyd, I suggest this inspiring book by Tom Tarrants, who God transformed from a white supremacist to pastor of a multi-ethnic church and crusader against bigotry: http://ow.ly/A7EI30qKc9Q
No words can change the actions of others. But our actions can change the world. And the church needs to lead the way.
Back in September 2017, I read an article by Kevin DeYoung, bestselling author and Pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, NC. We contacted him this week and asked for his permission to share it here:
10 Reasons Racism Is Sin by Kevin DeYoung
Most people know that racism is wrong. It’s one of the few things almost everyone agrees on. And yet, I wonder if we (I?) have spent much time considering why it’s wrong.
We can easily make our “I hate racism” opinions known, but perhaps we are just looking for moral high ground, or for pats on the back, or to win friends and influence people, or to prove we’re not like those people, or maybe we are just saying what we’ve always heard everyone say.
As Christians we must think and feel deeply not just the what of the Bible but the why. If racism is so bad, why is it so bad?
Here are ten biblical reasons why racism is sin and offensive to God.
1. We are all made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Most Christians know this and believe it, but the implications are more staggering than we might realize. As a white man I am no more like God in my being, no more capable of worship, no more made with a divine purpose, no more possessing of worth and deserving of dignity than any other human of any other gender, color, or ethnicity. We are more alike than we are different.
2. We are all sinners corrupted by the fall (Rom. 3:10-20; 5:12-21). Everyone made in the image of God has also had that image tainted and marred by original sin. Our anthropology is as identical as our ontology. Same image, same problem. We are more alike than we are different.
3. We are all, if believers in Jesus, one in Christ (Gal. 3:28). We see from the rest of the New Testament that justification by faith does not eradicate our gender, our vocation, or our ethnicity, but it does relativize all these things. Our first and most important identity is not male or female, American or Russian, black or white, Spanish speaker or French speaker, rich or poor, influential or obscure, but Christian. We are more alike than we are different.
4. Separating peoples was a curse from Babel (Gen. 11:7-9); bringing peoples together was a gift from Pentecost (Acts 2:5-11). The reality of Pentecost may not be possible in every community–after all, Jerusalem had all those people there because of the holy day–but if our inclination is to move in the direction of the punishment of Genesis 11 instead of the blessing of Acts 2 something is wrong.
5. Partiality is a sin (James 2:1). When we treat people unfairly, when we assume the worst about persons and peoples, when we favor one group over another, we do not reflect the God of justice nor do we honor the Christ who came to save all men.
6. Real love loves as we hope to be loved (Matt. 22:39-40). No one can honestly say that racism treats our neighbor as we would like to be treated.
7. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer (1 John 3:15). Sadly, we can hate without realizing we hate. Hatred does not always manifest itself as implacable rage, and it does not always–or, because of God’s restraining mercy, often–translate into physical murder. But hatred is murder of the heart, because hatred looks at someone else or some other group and thinks, “I wish you weren’t around. You are what’s wrong with this world, and the world would be better without people like you.” That’s hate, which sounds an awful lot like murder.
8. Love rejoices in what is true and looks for what is best (1 Cor. 13:4-7). You can’t believe all things and hope all things when you assume the worst about people and live your life fueled by prejudice, misguided convictions, and plain old animosity.
9. Christ came to tear down walls between peoples not build them up (Eph. 2:14). This is not a saccharine promise about everyone setting doctrine aside and getting along for Jesus’s sake. Ephesians 2 and 3 are about something much deeper, much more glorious, and much more cruciform. If we who have been made in the same image, born into the world with the same problem, find the same redemption through the same faith in the same Lord, how can we not draw near to each other as members of the same family?
10. Heaven has no room for racism (Rev. 5:9-10; 7:9-12; 22:1-5). Woe to us if our vision of the good life here on earth will be completely undone by the reality of new heavens and new earth yet to come. Antagonism toward people of another color, language, or ethnic background is antagonism toward God himself and his design for eternity. Christians ought to reject racism, and do what they can to expose it and bring the gospel to bear upon it, not because we love pats on the back for our moral outrage or are desperate for restored moral authority, but because we love God and submit ourselves to the authority of his word.
So was Monday a tipping point to end what USA TODAY called “the persistent pandemic?” Only time will tell and it will depend in large part on what you and I are willing to do.
Unlike other pandemics, none of us can social distance from this one.
© 2020. Barry L. Cameron
1 Gladwell, Malcolm. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Abacus, 2015.
2 Chandler, Diana. “Pastors Urge Prayer, Gospel Outreach as Outrage Grows over George Floyd's Death.” Baptist Press, 27 May 2020, www.bpnews.net/54859/pastors-urge-prayer-gospel-outreach-as-outrage-grows-over-george-floyds-death.
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.