And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:4-5
Defining Civil Righteousness
Civil Righteousness is the pursuit of spiritual wholeness, moral excellence, and biblical justice in the face of adversity; according to the biblical pattern. Most of the tactics that aggrieved individuals and groups use today, are strategies that were first entrusted to spiritual leaders over 50 years ago. Our goal is to engage the justice issues of today with fresh prophetic clarity and apostolic grace which proceeds from a posture of fasting and prayer. The late Buckminster Fuller, a Harvard University inventor said, “We will never change things by fighting existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
This is the opportunity that we believe God is inviting the Church into amidst the unrest of today. While “Rights” deals with our externals, “Righteousness” deals with our internals. Biblically, Jesus’ justice agenda begins with internal transformation which leads to external reformation and produces eternal satisfaction. One of the clearest scriptural admonishments for internal transformation as the starting point for change in the time of crisis is found in Joel 2.
The day of the Lord is indeed great and very awesome, And who can endure it?“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate,Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil. (V.11-13)
This pattern of personal repentance, corporate humility, communal mourning which leads to internal change, is the foundation of civil righteousness. We desire for the fullness of Christ’s character to be established within us. We want to be perfected by his love in such a way that we can grow in mercy and possess our souls in humility even in the face of inequity or offense. From that posture, we can move into the arena of public action.
The Sins of the Fathers
It was just before dawn on April 12, 1861 when a cannon shell exploded above Fort Sumter in South Carolina, thrusting America into a war that turned rivers and cotton fields red with the blood of hundreds of thousands. I imagine that in the dark of the night, soldiers on both sides of the conflict received no sleep. They were terrorized by the reality that every measure of diplomacy had failed. Each failed attempt at finding one another around the table of brotherhood had produced the black powder of hopelessness, mistrust, bitterness, and ultimately war. Today, America is again wandering in the dark night of racial conflict with the cannons that our forefathers initially loaded; unsure if the shell will explode before the dawn.
189 years ago, Sojourner Truth recovered her son from her former slave master, becoming the first black woman to win such a case against a white man in court. 155 years ago, Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation. 62 years ago Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus, and nine years ago we elected the first dark skinned U.S. President. However, our current race and police related crises reveal to us the utter futility of any attempt to deal with the historic racial divide apart from the redemptive work of Jesus and the transformational power of the Holy Spirit. Since slavery, our legislative victories and the various changes in the civic and social arena have only rendered every consummate generation guilty of fulfilling God’s diagnosis through the prophet Jeremiah:
And they have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace. (6:14). They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace. (8:14)
Moments, Messages, and Movements
America has entered into an era of protest unseen since the1960’s. The historic Black Civil Rights Movement (BCRM) pointed out injustices, fought for legislative change, and became a mighty instrument for social reform. However that alone was not enough to bring the salve needed for generational emotional, psychological, and spiritual healing. It changed the way we’ve lived together but not the way that we’ve loved one another. After the 2012 Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford, Florida; a new sound began to emerge from the grandsons and granddaughters of those who marched with Dr. King and Rev.Fred Shuttlesworth. From the protest chants “No justice, No Peace! No Racist Police” to “Mike Brown means, we got to fight back!”; Glen Ford, the executive editor of the Black Agenda Report notes, “This ain’t your grandfather’s civil rights movement.”
#BlackLivesMatter appeared as a hashtag on social media postings in response to repetitive scenarios where African-Americans seemed to be on the losing side of the justice system. The hashtag was simply a slogan that applied to the race and justice related discussion in regards to the historic journey of the African Diaspora in North America. Through the unrest in Ferguson, the slogan began to take on the characteristics of a movement. With decentralized leadership and no clear organizational goals and/or parameters; various ideological groups and agendas were easily allowed to embed within the protests as long as they expressed solidarity to the idea that a black life matters. Recognizing the opportunity, various political groups were able to capitalize upon the genuine grief of some within the black community to advance their more nefarious causes. Due to this, the grassroots protests which presented some anarchists with opportunities for rioting, looting, and violence against police; began to be perceived by some as terroristic. Eventually, the creators of the hashtag developed a political platform and began to take steps towards becoming an organization.
It is important for us to recognize and learn from both the truisms and the shortcomings of the historic Black Civil Rights Movement (CRM) and the present day Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. While some of the core messaging of BLM is true, it is not to be lauded as a movement of biblical truth. Like any platform, it is not free from hyperbole and some illegitimate grievances, but it is not devoid of all truth. While some in Christendom have dismissed the movement as meritless, others have embraced it as the frontline of God’s heart for justice in our day. There are similarities in the sense that both movements give voice to legitimate violations of divine principle in relation to the oppression of people groups through systemic injustice.There are significant differences in regards to leadership structure and ideological foundation. The historic Civil Rights Movement was rooted within the black worship tradition and the predominant messaging was derived from the leadership of the black church at the time. BLM does not purport to be a movement with allegiance to Christ or biblical ideology and in some places, has flatly rejected the voice of the local church. This is due in part to the legitimate moral failures of both the black and white christian communities which have caused significant emotional, spiritual, and psychological injury to the millennial generation. As a result, many ideological agendas that are in direct conflict with the biblical worldview are integrally woven within the BLM platform. This presents a major problem for the follower of Jesus who does not want to remain silent or passive in regards to the truisms of the BLM movement but who cannot endorse the elements and methodologies that are in opposition to the way of Christ.
For the past three years, I have been present in the midst of vigorous public demonstrations; praying in the spirit as cries of mourning rang out in the form of protest from the bellies of hurting and angry people. I believe that we must recognize and repent for the unrighteousness that we’ve tolerated and perpetuated first within the Church; which has caused us to lose our ability to engage society with moral authority. However, these failures are not an excuse for us to remain silent on the issues that God is revealing in this moment of history; nor are they an excuse for us to negate the role that He has given us as ambassadors for the reconciliation of all things in Christ Jesus. We cannot stand in total solidarity with BLM and also stand as ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven, nor can we cling to our historic nationalistic, political, and ethnocentric allegiances and be considered citizens of an eternal kingdom. The body of Christ must articulate the truth of the “imago dei”, the image of God within man, and confront the systems which seek to desecrate that reality within every sphere of society. In this context, we should be the loudest voice concerning that which relates to the dignity and the destiny of the black community.
In review, the CRM was conceived in and stewarded by the black Baptist Church. BLM was conceived outside of the church, does not identify as a Christian movement, and consists of morally and culturally ambiguous leadership. As a result, there is currently no singular evangelical movement with widespread influence that is articulating the truths of the BLM concerns by confronting legitimate injustice issues within the civic arena. Nor has there been any distinctive authority proactively confronting the Gospel issues that directly affect the way we live and love within and beyond our own communities until very recently. With dedicated forums, podcasts, conferences, and recent articles; there are pockets of influence with new voices emerging from various Reformed theological circles. Ultimately, a wide and effectual door for the people of God has been opened to provide Kingdom solutions. The atmospheric conditions of America have ripened the harvest to follow the leadership of Jesus through His Church.
DAY 11: PROTECTION
ADORATION: You are the PROTECTING God, our DEFENDER. Psalm 91:14, Psalm 59:9, 1 John 5:18
REPENTANCE: Forgive us for not trusting you. Psalm 20:7
INTERCESSION: Lord, you are our shield and defense. You protect us from the threats of the enemy, and even now we believe that you are hearing the petition of the defenseless asking for justice. You surround those who love and acknowledge you with songs of deliverance, rescuing and honoring them. Heavenly Father, as forces of racial trouble and confusions threaten our land, today we ask that you would surround us, our children and their teachers in schools, our police officers and social and administration workers as they work selflessly to secure our communities. We lean on your promises today and believe by faith that as we commit ourselves in prayer you are securing the gates of our cities. Show yourself strong on our behalf, in these dark days let you kingdom be manifest in all its glory and power, for your own name's sake. Amen!
DAY 10: COURAGE
ADORATION: You are the VICTORIOUS God. 1 John 5:4, Zeph. 3:17, Hab. 3:18, Psalm 45:4, Isaiah 25:8
REPENTANCE : Forgive us for looking to the hand of man for our salvation and deliverance. Psalm 33:16-19
INTERCESSION: Lord, break through in this hour with a mighty display of your power and might. We trust in your mighty name, at the mention of which You turn the tide of the battle, making a victorious display on behalf of truth and righteousness. We call upon Jehovah Rohi, Jehovah Shalom, Jehovah Tsidkenu--you who manifests righteousness and justice in your dealings with man, you who releases peace and assurance as part of your nature and goodness, you who consistently guides, working mighty wonders and is sovereign over the universe. In our weak selves we cannot prevail against powers of darkness causing racial hatred, division and prejudice in our nation, but under your glorious banner, we are more than conquerors! Arise O God, and come into your resting place in our cities and communities. We build you an altar with our worship and heart-sacrifice, come and dwell among us, we pray in Jesus' name. Amen!
DAY 9: ENDURANCE
**Prayer Call today 12pm CST Dial 605 562 3000 code: 1022397**
ADORATION: You Lord are our STRENGTH. Nahum 1:7, Psalm 59:17, Psalm 73:26
REPENTANCE: Forgive us for leaning on our strength and not on Yours. Proverbs 3:5,6
INTERCESSION: Almighty God, strengthen your Church in this hour. As the overwhelming feelings of despair and weariness cloud our sense of hope, as the racial tensions rage, Lord break in with your power. Shine your light on the eyes of our hearts, help us to recognize that your hand is indeed at work among the races and among the diverse cultures and generations, even in the midst of immense darkness. Though dark spirits of prejudice and division swirl, your light is in fact shining brighter and brighter! Holy Spirit, give your faithful ones in this nation a huge dose of encouragement this morning. Let joy arise, it is our strength in this hour. Thank you dear Father, you have not left us hopeless. We are strong in you and in the power of your might!
DAY 8: FAITH
ADORATION: You are the God who is attentive to my prayers. 2 Chronicles 7:15, Psalm 34:15, 1 Peter 3:12
REPENTANCE: Forgive us for doubting that you hear and respond to our prayers. Psalm 34:6
INTERCESSION: Lord, we ask for the release of divine grace and increased anointing of prayer in the church. Father would you raise up a Church in this hour wholeheartedly given to the eternal ministry of Jesus, ever in intercession, bridging the gap between earth's condition and heaven's reality. Holy Spirit we ask that you may begin to stir up the hearts of many toward the issue of racial reconciliation, that we may be caught up in the heart and emotion of heaven, and the burning desire to see restoration. We ask in faith believing this is on your heart. 2 Chronicles 7:14
DAY 7: FORGIVENESS
ADORATION: You are the FORGIVING God Psalm 103:3
REPENTANCE: Forgive us for acting out in vengeance in our thoughts, words and deeds. Matthew 5:38,39
Lord, give the body of Christ increased grace to love like you love and forgive our enemies and those who sin against us. Let mature brotherly love abound in our congregations, fellowships and ministries. We ask for wisdom and divine understanding on how to confront and dismantle racism and prejudice in our midst. Illuminate hearts, release your power to deliver and make things right. We ask this in Jesus' mighty name, Amen. Matthew 6: 12, 14,15
A video devotion with JT Thomas on Facebook Live.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH A REPLAY
DAY 5: HOPE
Today we are speaking and releasing hope into the nation. As you wait on the Lord, the Holy Spirit will place a certain region or city on your heart; speak out and by faith release hope into its atmosphere, its communities, schools, churches/ministries, civil government, administration etc. The prayers of a righteous one partnered with Holy Spirit release great power. Also, we would love to hear from you! Please feel free to respond to these daily emails and share with us any revelation or insight the Lord gives you in this season of prayer. Thank you! -TheWall
You are the God of HOPE
•Psalm 38:15 – “For in You, O Lord, do I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God.”
•Lamentations 3:24 – “The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being; therefore will I hope in Him.”
Forgive us for putting our hope in other saviors.
•Deuteronomy 11:16,17 – “Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, lest the LORD’s anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you.”
•Exodus 20:3 – “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
Bring hope to those who have no hope.
•Romans 15:13 – “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
•Psalm 130:7,8 – “O Israel, hope in the LORD; For with the LORD there is mercy, And with Him is abundant redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.