Ever since the coronavirus crisis began, I’ve been posting blogs linked to it in some way. This one is different. For the first time in weeks, a story about something other than Covid-19 has dominated the news. It’s the story of George Floyd, an unarmed man, stopped by the police,  subjected to a restraint technique that stopped him breathing and led to his death. In the city of Minneapolis where he died, George was the 44th man to lose consciousness through this technique, most of whom were black. George had spent time in prison previously, but at the time of his death he was unarmed and working with churches to point young people away from gang violence, and towards Jesus.

What does God think about black people? Do they deserve to be treated badly? Is it right that we once held many in slavery? Do they deserve worse opportunities than white people? Certainly not! When you look at the history of the early church its origins were in Jerusalem. It began at a time we call Pentecost and quickly grew. Following a time of persecution, the church spread throughout Judea, into Samaria, and out into other countries, what were known at the time as the Gentile nations, as opposed to the Jewish nation. Samaritans were a mix of half Jew, half Gentile and the Jews hated them. It didn’t stop God working among them and many came to faith in Christ, including a man called Simon the Sorcerer. But who was the first fully Gentile convert? Well, we don’t know his name but what a fascinating character. A convert to Judaism, he was travelling back from Jerusalem to his home country and on the way met Philip, an evangelist(1). Philip told him about Jesus, and he was converted, the first known Gentile Christian. He’s described as an Ethiopian eunuch, which strangely enough doesn’t mean he was from Ethiopia. When he’s described as Ethiopian it means he was black skinned. Are you getting this? The first known Gentile convert to Christianity was black. What does God think about black people? He loves them, just like he loves white people. To him we’re not black or white. We’re just sinners in need of his help and love. The Bible tells us that, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”(2) It’s also true that there is neither black nor white. Christians believe in equality, and practice equality. We reject racism.

Remember me telling you that Jews hated Samaritans? Well, Jesus used that to great effect when he spoke to an expert in the law, telling him he needed to love both God and his neighbour. He told him a story about a Jewish man who was attacked by robbers and left to die.(3) Two Jewish men of importance passed by and ignored their countryman. A Samaritan, his enemy, stopped to help him, took him to an inn, and paid for his care. That’s a neighbour. I’m your neighbour, you are my neighbour. We are supposed to have a care for each other, a respect for each other, and yes, a love for each other. George Floyd is my neighbour. His life matters. He didn’t deserve to die in the awful way he did.

#BlackLivesMatter

References:
(1) Acts 8: 26

(2) Galatians 3:28
(3) Luke 10:30