The Jewish scriptures of the bible always bring attention to the cry of the oppressed. As a pastor of a local church, and a pastor of the city, what connections do you make between the cry of the oppressed in the scriptures and the cry of injustice taking place in our city and our nation today?
The cry of injustice is something that I wrestle with on so many levels. It’s hard because I naturally want to cling to the hope we have in Jesus, however, it’s not that easy. I live in a world and world of systems that weren’t created for folks like me to really thrive and be true to who I am.
Oppression looks very different. Am I enslaved and beaten? No. Am I poor and hungry? No. Am I free to be myself and valued for that? No. Am I known for being Sanchez, or have I learned the game and art of being what my surroundings dictate? Yes. Have I learned to say the right things and use the correct language in order to be heard and accredited? Yes. Do I still feel like African Americans have to give 200% to Caucasians 100%? Yes. Do I feel like this is reflected in the church and government? Absolutely. The church and government, during the reformation particularly, paved it to be this way. It’s unfortunate that the two most influential and powerful entities paved the way for this chaos.
From what you can tell, how has the local church responded to the racial tensions and social crisis? How can we improve/change our response moving forward?
I think that for the first time some churches realize that it’s an issue. The local church has responded better, but if I’m honest, it’s not been a great response. Have we focused so much on “reaching the lost” and becoming “seeker sensitive” that we have ignored the voice of those hurting in our care? Do we truly get discipleship? Do we get the simple things, like loving your neighbor as yourself? Do we get what it means to be a “mother and father” to those who have no home? Have we chosen us for them? Have we made what was once a conviction our comforts?
It’s easy to share the gospel, but to mean that and exercise that on a practical level is another thing. It’s time for us to do less preaching and more living. I don’t see many churches giving up their program to walk the streets or get in the trenches. It’s time to wake up and get dirty!
It’s time for us to do less preaching and more living. It’s time to wake up and get dirty.
Looking at the scriptures again, the Gospel of Jesus Christ affirms the equality of all humanity and the power to rise from the grave of struggle and suffering with hope and courage. How does the Gospel influence your current outlook and future dreams for the city?
The gospel is everything and the only thing keeping me in this fight. It keeps me loving the poor, homeless, and broken well, while tolerating and loving church people. I know that’s harsh but the gospel points me to the brokenness in myself and it motivates me to fix my attitude. I have to allow love to be unconditional and let it lead me. Love is the only answer to mending the hurt and pain that runs deep.
What are some simple actions steps we can take as individuals and churches and neighborhoods for healing and wholeness?
We have to display unity to this world. How will they know what it’s supposed to look like if we don’t lead them? It starts with us uniting with other churches locally. Challenging our people to build authentic relationships with people different than them. It doesn’t have to start with skin color. When we address the pattern and fix that, then will we see change. We, as the Church, need to be the voice that changes some of the systematic racism, meaning we get it out of our institutions that are supposed to be churches. Church should be a safe place where ALL people are welcomed, not just the ones that look and act like us.
Unity is the key that unlocks healing and blessing for our community.
Sanchez is one of the pastors at Center City Church in Charlotte, NC. Visit their website at centercity.church or their new location at 2225 Freedom Dr. Charlotte, NC 28208.
Bonus Plug: Sanchez just dropped a new EP, One Voice, a couple months ago and you should check it out. It can be purchased wherever good music is sold. Here’s the title track, a powerful vision for a people and city unified with God and one another: