BY CHRIS KUO ON BEHALF OF THE CRUX EDITORIAL STAFF
“There comes a time when silence is betrayal,” Martin Luther King, Jr. once said. As the editorial team for Crux, we believe that this is one of those times—a time to speak out for justice on behalf of the oppressed.
We mourn the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the countless other members of the Black community whose lives have been snatched away due to police brutality. We stand in solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters who continue to face violence, prejudice, and discrimination simply due to the color of their skin. We lament the systemic racism that has plagued America since 1619, that permeates our country and culture, and that persists even today.
As an undergraduate journal of Christian thought, we chose our name, Crux, because it derives from the Latin word for “cross.” We firmly believe in the relevance of the Cross of Jesus Christ to all aspects of life, including questions of racial justice. Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, died on a cross, bearing the sin of humanity and satisfying the wrath of God against evil. This Cross has many implications for how we respond to the ongoing oppression of our Black brothers and sisters. Here are four.
The Cross shows the preciousness of all human life in God’s eyes. Jesus Christ died for Ahmaud Arbery. Jesus Christ died for Breonna Taylor. Jesus Christ died for George Floyd. Each of these individuals bears the image of God, fearfully and wonderfully made. At the Cross, we see a profound demonstration of the love of God—God Himself bleeding for humanity and identifying Himself with the oppressed. When Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of George Floyd, he was kneeling on the neck of a man for whom God shed His blood.
The Cross also reveals the mercy of God. When Jesus died on the Cross, he prayed for the people who nailed him to the wood: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). The message of the Cross is that each of us is a sinner in need of a Savior. In a way, it was our voices who mocked Jesus, our hands who pounded in the nails—our sin that necessitated a sacrifice. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). The God of the Cross is a God of scandalous grace.
The Cross expresses God’s zeal for justice. God in Jesus Christ took the penalty for sin because His righteousness necessitates the punishment of evil. The God of the Cross is the same God who commands His followers to “learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression” (Isa. 1:17), who loves justice (Isa. 61:18), who treasures justice and righteousness more than religious sacrifices (Prov. 21:3), who is the righteous Judge (2 Tim. 4:8), who demands that “justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24). As Fleming Rutledge writes in The Crucifixion, “To be outraged and to take action on behalf of the voiceless and oppressed…is to do the work of God.”
Finally, the Cross shows the nature of love. Jesus didn’t love us from a distance. He came to earth, got his hands dirty, sacrificed his time and energy and life. He loved both in word and in deed. Love necessitates action—not just avoiding wrong actions or thoughts, but being proactive in doing good. Love is Jesus, broken and bleeding, bearing a Roman cross.
What does all of this mean? Below is a list of questions that apply the message of the Cross to our hearts and lives. We are prayerfully pondering these questions, and we encourage you to do the same.
Are we treating our Black brothers and sisters as people made in the image of God? As people for whom Jesus shed his blood?
Are we embracing God’s heart for justice? Do we fight for the oppressed, marginalized, and mistreated?
How can we show mercy in this moment—even to people who don’t deserve it?
Are we loving our Black brothers and sisters in the same way Jesus loved us? Are we sacrificing our time and energy and lives for them, loving with words and with deeds? (Some resources on how to learn, give, protest, and push for political change can be found here and here.)
As King wrote in Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Jesus Christ was an “extremist for love”—demonstrated supremely by his death on the cross. Today, we have a choice to make, with no room for apathy. As King wrote, “The question is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate, or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice, or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?”
We at Crux commit to being extremists for God’s love, mercy, and justice. We invite you to do the same.