I got up with a heavy heart this morning. I’m experiencing an inner compulsion to speak to the ugliness and evil of racism, in light of the weekend events in Virginia.
I want to be clear in identifying evil without being guilty of self-righteous finger-pointing and name-calling. I want to speak the truth in love and honor Christ.
I want to call the people of God to BE the Body of Christ publicly and display an accurate and mature reflection of the character of Jesus.
In my work as a coach, if someone were to tell me, “I want to say …,” I would ask that person, “So what’s preventing you from saying just that?”
So, here’s what I want to say and I’m going to say it:
Racism is evil and sinful, no matter the source. When ANYONE denigrates another person because of the color of their skin, their country of origin, their socio-economic status, their native language, their ethnic or religious heritage, or anything that makes them “different” – whether in a tense public demonstration, a quiet break room conversation, a Sunday School class, or any other place – it is evil and sinful.
Racism is evil and sinful, no matter the source. Click To Tweet
Racism on the part of one person or one group is never – I repeat, NEVER – a legitimate reason for another person or group to respond with racism. None of us gets to excuse our own sinful behavior by claiming that it is only a response to someone else’s worse behavior.
Racism on the part of one person or group is NEVER a legitimate reason to respond with racism. Click To Tweet
People who truly believe that they are superior because of the color of their skin, their ethnic or religious heritage, or their citizenship (that one’s going to tick some people off) and that seek the advancement of their kind to the detriment of others that they truly believe are less deserving because they are different should be made to feel less welcome at the table of public discourse and more uncomfortable in the gatherings of followers of Jesus.
But, I also need to be clear about some other things:
All racially focused discussions are not racist. When a marginalized group seeks equal treatment and respect by focusing on how their race has been treated, it is not racist, unless they are seeking advancement to the detriment of others.
A person who makes a racially insensitive statement is not a racist. The statement should not be excused – and sometimes the legitimate consequences may be serious – but a person’s life and work is defined by character exhibited over time, not by statements in isolation. So, let’s be very careful in painting people with incendiary labels. The true evil of racism is minimized when the labels get thrown around indiscriminately.
The church must not be a place where racism is tolerated. I actually heard about one pastor who was fired yesterday after he preached a sermon on racism. I know that kind of racism exists in a small minority of churches. But keeping racism out of the church is not enough.
The church must not be a place where racism is tolerated. Click To Tweet
We, the people of God, are not simply called to comment on life’s circumstances. We are called to engage in life’s circumstances.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (who was martyred in Nazi Germany) said, “Our relationship to God is a new life in ‘being there for others,’ and participation in the being of Jesus. The transcendent does not consist in infinite, unreachable tasks, but in the currently available reachable neighbor. God in human form! … The church is only the church when it is there for others.”
Knowing our lives matter to God should result in our conviction that every life matters to God and that we stand with the different, the marginalized, the immigrant, the refugee, the outcast, the broken, the wounded and say, “We are here for you and we will make the first move.”
None of us is innocent. But let’s decide to be part of the solution.