In America, we find ourselves in the middle of a dark story of racism and death and many of us are asking, “How did we get here?”

Let’s start at the beginning. In Genesis 1, God created mankind. He made them as the image and likeness of God, granting them the value and authority to physically represent God on this earth. Then the unthinkable happened in Genesis 4: man died by the hand of another man. The value that God had endowed to each person was disregarded. When Cain killed his brother Abel, God asked Cain where Abel was, his irreverent answer was, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Yes, We Are

Jesus answered Cain’s question and even raised the stakes. He answered with a resounding “yes” when he not only told us to love our neighbor, but to love our enemies. Attempting to evade the weight of caring for our brothers and sisters, Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” The parable that followed caused Jesus’ audience to confront their prejudice: the hero of the story who succeeded in caring for his neighbor was a Samaritan man—a man whose ethnicity caused Jews to hate him.

When we ask ourselves what God thinks or feels about something, we can often find our answer in Jesus—in his flesh and bones representation of who God is. It’s undeniable that Jesus challenged social conventions of ethnicity, status, age, and gender because he acknowledged the value in every human being. He healed both the oppressed in his society, the Jews, and the oppressors, the Romans. He did not divide his care or his concern along racial or ethnic lines. He showed us that there’s no room for racism in his kingdom.

Valuing All Life

Then and now, racism is an attitude of devaluation directed towards one of God’s representative simply because of their ethnic or racial identity. Racism says to God and God’s creation, “You don’t have value.” Racism makes an enemy of our brother or sister on the basis of the shade of skin he or she wears on this side of eternity. Event after event this year has exposed the deep wounds caused by hundreds of years of racism in our midst. For those of us previously unaware, individual and systemic racism is present, undeniable, and flagrant rejection of the value of the image of God in some.

When unborn babies are killed in back rooms, the church is moved to mourning, but when black men die in the streets our desire for justice disappears. Pro-life means more than caring for the unborn—it must extend across all boundaries to the life unjustly lost during a traffic stop and during protest. God is not selective in his value of human life and we should follow suit.

What Can We Do?

1 // Listen More

James, in his epistle, gave us some very practical advice that’s important in times of sensitivity and pain: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” If you find yourself angry about what’s going on, seek to listen and understand before moving to any action. A good question to ask ourselves is, “Is this a righteous anger or an anger motivated by fear, self-protection, or misunderstanding?”

2 // Mourn Together

By mourning, we acknowledge the pain of others and the loss of value that has occurred. Our neighbors and our enemies have value, so by taking a moment today to wrestle with the pain and confusion of loss, you’re choosing to “mourn with those who mourn” as even Jesus did.