I wrote this to our William Jessup University Community (www.jessup.edu) this past week as we grapple with the pain of these hours:
Dear Jessup Community,
Words are not our first priority right now. Love is. Compassion is. Understanding is. Like you, my emotions and thoughts have been jumbled these last many months with the combination of a pandemic and now the multiple incidents of injustice against black citizens; these as an added chorus to a seemingly unbroken string of generational pain and broken promises. All of these events are now coupled with violence in urban, suburban, and rural settings across America. Chaos reigns and our hearts are broken. What can we say in a time like this? We long for a Micah 6:8 society where we can â€œLove justice, do mercy, and walk humbly with our God.â€
As the President of William Jessup University, Iâ€™ve been active on social media and have reached out to several friends and leaders in the Christian community in our region and in the nation. I have talked and written much, largely in â€œreal timeâ€ with the external world. But, those conversations and writing have not been enough and I know our times call for more.
At this time, I also feel a need to speak clearly to our Jessup community about several things:
- We believe in the Imago Dei. That means we believe that every human life is precious and has value derived from God, our Creator. We condemn racism, bigotry, and the evil inherent in our fallen human systems. We know that God is good and that Satan is evil. We know that John 10:10 is a declaration of the â€œfingerprintsâ€ of Satan and of Jesus.
- We condemn violence at every turn. Violence against people, property and society is a destructive urge that is demonic and we condemn it at every level. It seems clear that peaceful protests are being infiltrated by agents of anarchy and destruction and we condemn their behavior and support our law enforcement officials restoring order to our society.
- We are heartbroken at the fractures in our society and recognize that many people in the Jessup community, Sacramento region, and across California are suffering and grieving losses during these hours. We are a covenant people and covenant to walk in grace and truth to see the name of the Lord lifted up for the healing of the nations during these hours.
Galatians 3:28 tells us that in Christ that there are no differences and we are all one in Him. I believe that truth with every fiber of my being. BUT, the reality in this life does not manifest that way. Our fellow colleagues and family members who are people of color often experience injustice and pain at greater levels and deeper injustice than many of us who are white can comprehend. We have all seen law enforcement officials who have grieved with hurting people and we recognize that stereotyping police or protesters is not helpful. All of these scenes create a conflicting montage in our minds and our hearts.
So what can we do in the midst of these conflicts? I believe there are 3 specific things we must DO as a â€œfirst fruitsâ€ offering to the Lord as an act of worship:
1) Pray. Prayer is NOT passive. Prayer is the active engagement of heaven with earth. Now, perhaps more than ever, we need to pray. Take hold of heaven; we desperately need heaven on earth as Jesus declared was the Father’s will. Of course we will pray personally and in our small groups and churches. We will also hold multiple prayer vigils in the days and weeks to come. Stay tuned for details about the first prayer vigil to be held this Wednesday night, led by our Student Life Ministries.
2) Press In. Please talk with our African American colleagues and fellow students and just ask, “How are you doing? Is there anything I can do to help you or support you? Help me understand what you are feeling so that I can understand a small portion of your reality.” Listen. Listen hard. I have reached out to several of my Black friends and asked them to teach me, again. I am learning and leaning in; all of us must be willing to love, listen, and learn.
3) Push Forward. Ask God to show you what one thing you can do to help our world recover from the devastation of our unjust and sin-stained present reality. It can be simple or it can be huge. We all need a Savior, and these times demonstrate that once again. How can we lovingly lift up Jesus to a world broken and scarred by sin and injustice?
My heart is broken, but my hope is not lost. Our hope is in Him. He is our peace, He is our hope, and He is our joy. This life is not our ending point, but we have a responsibility to live in such a way as to love and serve in a way that brings glory to Jesus. Thank you for your heartbeat and our shared ability to live, love, and serve together.
For His Glory And With Hope,
John Jackson, PhD