Right after Ferguson, I went through a gamut of emotions -- mainly because as a writer, I feel compelled to put words to events, to thought processes, and ideas. I wanted to write through what I was seeing, and more importantly what God was teaching me. I just didn't know how to use my voice for the better good. I was also scared, and actually; still am.
There have been plenty of opportunities to step up to the plate; to use my voice. I just haven't done it yet. However, after seeing events play out in Charlottesville, Virginia-- I'm just ready; ready to write about hard things.
Maybe it's not the norm to start here, but I've got to say that I'm totally unqualified. I am no expert on racial reconciliation. I'm a white, SAHM who lives in a city that is far from being diverse. I don't read the news that often. I'm privileged.
And yet, I am a follower of Christ. This is what compels me to speak.
I'm tired of reading the headlines and seeing account after account of racism and bigotry and more. And then, upon opening up my social media feeds all I find is a deafening silence. I'm not sure if it's apathy, or if it's fear. Either way, it's quiet.
Honestly, I'm not mad at them; I'm not mad at my friends and family who haven't posted an eloquent status on what's happening. I'm not mad at the church; or pastors who haven't devoted whole sermons to what's actually going on in America. If I haven't said it yet; let me say it now -- this IS racism. I'm mad at myself. In a world with so many voices and opinions, what I should be more concerned with is how I haven't been using my own.
And yet, there are many who are angry. There are many who have taken to media to compel congregants of churches to leave their pews and abandon their pastors if they don't take to their pulpits in righteous indignation. It seems that in utter shock of coming face to face with the evil that exists in the world, we'd rather spend our time pointing our fingers. We just don't know what to do anymore. We have this unhealthy proclivity to get stuck on WHOSE to blame, instead of HOW to move forward.
What good does that do us? Why create more strife and disunity in a body that needs healing? Hate only leads to more hate. We already know who is to blame; it's not a person or a system or an institution. It's not your pastor. It's the one who initiated the first segregation, the first separation-- us from God and you from me. The enemy thrives on disagreement, misunderstanding, and dissent. If your church is one that's pretending that racism doesn't exist, that there isn't systemic brokenness that lives in every nook and cranny of our world -- it's not the time to run. Your church needs you. Your pastor needs you. It's time to stand up. It's time to love through what is hard in order to change what is hard.
I do think that this is how we move forward. We've got to learn how to really love one another.
We start with knowing that God was and is for each and every single one of us. He's very clear about that. But when we spend some time really thinking about what that means -- it's a lot less comfortable than we would like it to be. He loves every man and woman of every shade of color. He loves Democrats and Republicans. He loves Trump. He loves White Supremacists. He loves your neighbor and your mother-in-law and that friend who you just don't get. He loves us all; despite our sin.
Real love isn't based on what other people do, it's about what He did for them.
There are a lot of different ways that we can go about eradicating racism. And without glossing over some of the serious steps we need to take as a country, this is one step we can take as Christians — to show what love really is.
When Jesus asks us to love others like we love ourselves; it’s not through a filter of “good enough” or “did enough” or “white enough” or even “holy enough.” He asked this of us with the understanding that the way we love ourselves is seeing me and seeing you, through Him.
When we comprehend what that means, we can walk alongside those who are broken, who are persecuted, who are marginalized, who are ignorant, who are hateful and who don’t know right from wrong and we can show them the way of love.
In the thick of what’s happening right here and right now, we can be patient and we can be kind. We can boast not in our own truth, or our personal opinions and rather rejoice in His. We can bear the pain and suffering of our brothers and sisters and we can hope and believe that change will come. We can endure the responsibilities that love requires of us; to show up and to have hard conversations. Love is long-suffering, after all. We don’t run away from the storm, but into it — knowing that it’s not about us, it’s about Him. It’s about His children, ALL of them. We will not condone other’s wrongdoings and we will also not sit idly by. We will not bury our words and our presence where others cannot see - instead, we will take the risk and boldly invest; in relationships, in blog posts, in discussions, and in all the actual and tangible actions that show we are faithful to our God and not just to our safety. This looks different for all of us, and requires our willingness to ask the Father what He would have us do. How do we stand in His love in times likes these? How do we exemplify His love?
When we’re looking for guidance we must remember that our first example came in the form of Jesus and what He set before us as a model of love. It will always require more of us than we’re initially ready to give; that’s called sacrifice. It will stretch us; that’s our edification. But in the end, it will always be for His Glory and for our good; that’s called purpose. This is Kingdom Come. And this is His will be done.
This is the example that Jesus set before us, and the one that we’re commanded to follow. We have no excuse. Carry Onward. In love.
IN THE WORD
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. || 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. || Galatians 6:2
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. || John 3:16
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. || Luke 6:31
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. || John 15:12
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. || 1 Peter 3:8-12
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. || Philippians 2:4
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony || Colossians 3:12-14
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. || 1 John 3:18
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. || Romans 12:17-21