Reconcile: The church must address racism
Disturbed by the recent events in Cincinnati, McKinney, South Carolina, Baltimore and Ferguson?
You should be. Yet, addressing racism should not become a black vs. white issue. It should be addressed as a right vs. wrong issue.
As whites and blacks, we should be equally outraged by any unjust loss of life. It’s sad that we look in our communities, and they are divided by race and social-economic status. It’s sad that more of us blacks, whites and Hispanics don’t lift up each others’ burdens and do life with each other. Thus, when something like this happens, instead of pleading for justice, we run to our respective races.
I believe that when God created us, he loved us all the same. Is this not what our country and the civil rights movement was founded on? If we believe these truths to be self-evident, then people of all color should march on racism, police brutality, disproportionate incarceration rates, legal injustices, hate crimes, black-on-black violence and systemic oppression in America.
It’s a sad day when a young man who was born colorblind would grow to hate fellow Americans of the opposite skin color and let rage motivate him to shoot innocent people in a church. It’s a sad day when a young man fears for his life when confronted by the police. It’s sad that, although God loves us the same, we don’t treat each other that way. It’s sad that you can get away with murdering people if enough officers empty their clips with you (true story).
It’s sad that our justice system is deeply flawed, yet it only tends to affect people of color. It’s sad that poverty in America is brown. It’s sad that most of us reading this don’t have a genuine friend of the opposite color. It’s sad that you can’t remember the last time you had dinner at someone of the opposite race’s home.
Yet, it’s even more disheartening to see we’ve come so far, and yet in our hearts, are not much further than where we started.
On Sunday, Sept. 15, 1963, four Ku Klux Klan members planted at least 15 sticks of dynamite to a timing device beneath the front steps of the African-American 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Four girls were killed and 22 others were injured.
In June, Dylann Roof, 21, opened fire during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Nine people were killed.
Years ago, our true feelings were only shared among each other in our immediate communities. In 2015, social media has made our thoughts and true feelings available for all to see. This has brought to light the conditions that our hearts are truly in and, thus, here is my prayer.
I pray that whites and blacks would love each other and fight to understand each other.
This cannot happen if we refuse to live with one another or acknowledge each other’s struggles and cares. This cannot happen if we sweep racism and a plethora of other injustices under a rug and refuse to understand each other.
My father spent his adolescence in a poor, white trailer park and was the first white man in his family to have black children. It cost him many relationships and earned him much ridicule. Yet, it gave him a new-found compassion and understanding for African Americans and helped him have compassion for his son, who would see the world much differently and be confronted by things he would never experience.
The ultimate model of this love is through Christ. He existed in the form of God, yet did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (for us).
I’m not sure what side of the fence you might be on. Perhaps you’re white, confused of being called a racist and unsure of what white privilege looks like. Or maybe you’re black, disheartened and hurt by events that seem to reoccur and the feeling of desolation that accompanies being underprivileged, maligned and unheard.
The question at hand is: Can you sympathize or stand with a community that is plagued by incarceration, lack of resources, lack of means for upward mobility, failing education coupled with police targeting and a flawed justice system that is unforgiving to the said issues?
There’s a story of a good man who pastored a church in Mississippi in the late 1950’s. He was zealous for his congregation and preached the Gospel from the pulpit every Sunday. However, his immediate community was in the middle of race war.
There had been a lynching, and blacks were being jailed and beaten. Hatred brewed in the hearts and homes of the community as division and disgust for one another divided the town. Yet, the pastor never addressed any of these issues from the pulpit or spoke in regards to them in the community — perhaps for the fear of losing his congregation, his name in the community or his life.
Aligning himself with those being treated unjustly might have proved itself too heavy of a burden. Therefore, he never spoke on the issues, and the Gospel never penetrated the issues of hatred outside of his church.
Brothers and sisters, Christ left the pinnacles of Heaven to dwell with us and share our burdens, and He was ultimately crucified that we might one day walk in his spirit and be with Christ on Earth!
He didn’t see us solely by our mistakes or differences, but he loved us and bore our shame, guilt, pride and hate on his back. He didn’t hide in Heaven, boast in his equality with God or re-evaluate in Gethsemane or on Golgotha.
Christ knew that identifying with us would cost him his life. Yet, his act on the cross proved to be the greatest form of social justice (social — being for us; just — being that it made right what was wrong).
I pray we grow to fight for one another, lift each other’s burdens and rally to fight the common enemy … which is sin.
Grace and peace,