Reflections from Moody’s Leadership
Dr. Mark Jobe, Dr. Dwight Perry, and Roy Patterson share personal reflections while our nation is in crisis, as well as present 7 challenges to consider as we seek to respond in a way that honors Jesus.
Note: Members from Moody's leadership team recently came together via video for a special meeting with staff and faculty to share their personal reflections on how to respond to the crisis our nation is facing in God-honoring ways. Heart-felt thoughts from our President, Dr. Mark Jobe; our Provost, Dr. Dwight Perry; and Community Relations Director, Roy Patterson, were shared. Knowing these messages will resonate with our wider Moody family, the full video as well as a written version of Dr. Jobe's comments are shared here.
Responding to Crisis in Our Communities
by Dr. Mark Jobe
We are in a period of civil unrest, a challenging time that grieves our hearts and affects all of us in deep and emotional ways. In the last few days I have been talking with my Chicago friends—some African American leaders and pastors—dialoguing and praying about the best way to respond.
I want to acknowledge the deep, deep pain that exists because of the long-standing prejudice and bigotry against our African American communities. Here at Moody, this pain is especially felt among our African American faculty and staff, as well as other people of color. The crisis came to a head when we saw the images of George Floyd, a 46-year-old man who was arrested, thrown to the ground, and handcuffed. A knee was placed on his neck, he cried out while gasping for air, and his pleas were ignored.
No matter what your skin color, ethnicity, or age—we should all be indignant. We struggle to process the anger and the grief, and now we are seeking to understand how God would have us respond.
Historically, Chicago has been a racially polarized and divided city. When I came to pastor in Chicago, I discovered neighborhoods divided by walls of segregation. As I led a church in a minority community, I prayed that people of every background, skin color, and ethnicity would feel the love of God in this place. So I’ve pastored a multicultural congregation for over 30 years, and these events bring great grief to my heart and to my soul.
As we think about our current crisis, I want us to respond in the right way. How can we respond in a way that honors Jesus? Some of us are deeply affected in a personal way, but all of us should care about what’s happening in our country.
I would like to offer seven important challenges, phrased as what not to do. But with every negative, there is also a positive. While I am challenging us to avoid certain attitudes, I am also offering a positive challenge for the future.
- Don’t be quick to judge people’s experience. This is a time to listen, to empathize, to acknowledge people’s stories and their pain. It’s easy from the outside—if you’ve never lived through it—to excuse or explain away people’s pain. Instead, we need to listen to our African American brothers and sisters who are expressing grief and pain and deep hurt. This is a time for everyone to listen.
- Don’t dismiss legitimate peaceful protests. The protests started out with legitimate concerns and many peaceful protesters. Unfortunately, these were sabotaged by looting and vandalism and violence that has hurt the communities that were already suffering and struggling. Just yesterday, two blocks from the church that I pastor, looters broke windows and took advantage of the chaos. But the message of the protesters needs to be heard through the noise of looting. Don’t dismiss the message because of the violence occurring in our country and in our communities.
- Don’t absolve yourself from the problem. The message of the gospel describes us as broken, sin-ridden people who need the grace and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ to cleanse us, redeem us, and sanctify us. So I’m challenging all of us to search our hearts for traces of prejudice, racism, and divisiveness. We can deceive ourselves or excuse our behavior—but if prejudice is lurking in our lives, let the Holy Spirit convict us. This is a time for self-examination and repentance. This is a time to invite the Spirit of God to work deeply and personally within our hearts.
- Don’t just watch—do something. I spoke to Garrette Horne, a friend who pastors in the Hammond area. He warned of the people who are watching on their smartphones or television and shaking their heads at what’s happening. Instead, do something that may look different for a lot of us. Call a friend and express how sad you are for what they are going through. Call an African American pastor and encourage him during this difficult time for his community and his church. Grab a broom and go to a hurting community—clean up the glass from a vandalized storefront. Sign a petition that helps reform some of the problems that exist in your city. But let’s do something constructive!
- Don’t go back to normal when the streets quiet down. We need to ask ourselves how to change—how can we be a part of the solution that brings about a new normal. God is speaking to us, even through difficulty and challenge. The current crisis should grab our attention and cause us to say, “God, is there something that needs to change in my life, in how I live in my community?” How can we accelerate the change that needs to happen?
- Don’t underestimate the power of the gospel. Times like this should cause us to embrace the gospel more. What we’re going through should not distract us from the heart of our calling. The gospel calls us, as broken and depraved individuals, to call out to God through His Son, Jesus Christ, who gave His life and shed His blood for our redemption and for our cleansing. The Holy Spirit makes us new—and now that we’re new, we bring the culture of the kingdom to wherever we live. The gospel is, first of all, about reconciliation with God. Then it spills out to reconciliation with those around us. It was true in the first century, reconciling Jew and Gentile, and it should be true in our century, reconciling people today. We should demonstrate to the world what it means to live in harmony and love each other, regardless of our background or skin color. May the gospel be proclaimed with greater power and greater transformation than ever before.
- Don’t lose hope! If there is no hope in the future, there is no power in the present. Do not let the cloud of gloom eclipse a vision for a better future. Hope is not just positive thinking about the future—hope is based on the promises of God. Hope believes what God’s Word says, based on His character and rooted in His sovereignty. And because we believe God, we have hope in the future. That’s why believers should be the most hope-filled people on earth. Hope fuels energy for transformation and change.
So I want to challenge you—do not despair. Don’t spiral down in a pit of gloom, but allow the Spirit of God to refresh your soul and heart. Know that God is in control.
I believe that God has prepared us and empowered us for such a time as this. We need to be examples of the prayer that Jesus prayed in John 17:22, “that they may be one.” And we need to be the examples described in Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”