Under Armour is headquartered where I live—Baltimore, MD. As I walk through the city, I often notice their slogan: Protect this house. When asked if they’ll protect this house, athletes simply respond: “I will.” When it comes to the neighborhoods or cities we call home, I often wonder: Who will protect this house? I ask because I fear brothers and sisters who care about matters of racial justice can get distracted from the work of justice, mercy, and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23). For example, we all know the distractions that can come from social media—the mindless scrolling, the petty scuffles and squabbles. Paul would call them “foolish and ignorant controversies” (2 Timothy 2:23). And it’s distractions like these which can cause us to lose sight of real people and communities actually affected by racism. What’s more, when we lose focus, we ourselves can grow weary and hopeless.
I live in a neighborhood that reeks with the stench of partiality. As it did across the country, redlining shaped Baltimore real estate practices in the 20th century. It established boundaries based on standards of “race, religion, national origin, religion, and economic status.” Although laws have changed, the racist practices and policies of the past continue to have costly effects on race relations here in Baltimore. History haunts us still.
The proof of this is that one rarely sees unity among the neighborhood across these dividing lines. Walls, however invisible, still remain propped up. People go about their lives in their own world, seemingly still segregated—without hope and without God.
 Pietila, Antero. Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City., 71. Chicago: Ivan R Dee, Inc, 2012.
Consider this horrifying stat: 283 homicides have happened so far this year in Baltimore.
The reality of this fallen world has to keep our mouths speaking the gospel, our feet moving toward the lost with mercy, ours hands helping others, and our prayers running up to the throne. I want to focus on my zip code, where I seek to love others and eagerly pull them out of eternal fire (Jude 23).
I’m thankful for the raised awareness and education that come from social media, news, and broad conversations. We all have different callings, so I’m not saying you need to move to Baltimore. To those of you who educate and raise awareness, keep doing that; racism doesn’t only affect those in the inner-city. We need many conversations going at once. That said, we’re all called to love our neighbors (Mark 12:31), and this includes our actual neighbors—wherever we are. I fear pride tempts us to talk the talk online but prevents walking the walk in our communities.
Humility encourages us to place more weight on our local ministries and churches than our public faces or online reputations. Humility reminds us that we don’t need to win every argument, much less speak into each one. Social media thrives on callousness and defensiveness, but humility keeps our hearts soft.
That’s why I praise God that Twitter isn’t my local church. I don’t submit to its elders. I don’t give money to it for the purpose of ministry. I don’t eat the bread or drink the wine with people on there, and I can’t gather there on Sunday. But the local church can demonstrate the love of Christ in ways that social media interactions can’t. It may not have received online attention, but by God’s grace, my local church has been able to…
Clothe the needy
Tutor kids in under-resourced neighborhoods who struggle with math and reading
Give help and hope to those who have gotten abortions or are contemplating getting one
Support single mothers with bills and offer relational help with children
Advocate for fathers to have a voice in their children’s lives
Seek employment for former dope boys or returning citizens from jail
Offer eternal hope for the hopeless
What I love is that these demonstrations aren’t unique to my church. Many churches do them. So, when I am weary of race and racism and the noise around them, I look heavenward (Colossians 3:1). I look to the One who will not only build His house but protect it, too (Ezekiel 34; Matthew 16:18).
He has not called us to fix everything. He has given us a specific place to serve Him. And He promises to be with us until the end. Can we live within that truth? Can we seek God’s will earnestly with prayer, asking for the wisdom, strength, and humility only He can give? May the Lord give us grace to do so. May he give us grace to delight in Him as he protects, His people, the church.
- Pray for local churches in inner-city contexts that are affected by historic racism and injustice. Pray that the ministers and members stay faithful, and that the Lord would bring fruit in their lives and ministries.
- Pray for laborers for the fight, both those that send and those going. Workers are few and resources feel particularly feel few in places obscure places. Pray that God would raise up indigenous leaders to proclaim and serve in their context.
- Pray for peace for the weary and humility for the prideful. Pray that God would grow his saints in wisdom, our thinking, and our unity. Pray with a spirit of Philippians 3:15 knowing that God will mature his people.