So many people are saying such great things to challenge and push us for change on racism in the US, I have been feeling like I don't have anything better to say on the topic. But whether I am eloquent or even have a really good handle on everything doesn't matter so much as my willingness to speak out against it, learn, and try to help others around me as well.
That means speaking out against myself. I would like to think of myself as a pretty decent guy, but I know I can point out things I have done in my life, even at best perhaps well intentioned or just ignorant, that were still racist. Living in Honduras, I have had my eyes opened to racism I didn't even know existed before, and have read history (some distant and some recent), of racism I didn't know existed either.
During our devotion today, I asked another of our leadership team to pray about the current situation in the USA, that even from afar I was sensing this is bigger and deeper than has been seen for quite some time...maybe this can be a time for bigger institutional and individual change? They prayed a very thoughtful prayer...and included in that prayer was this: "please help anyone who thinks they are better than someone else because of their race, the color of their skin or what country they were born in." I didn't mention anything about countries/nationalism...but when I mentioned racism, it clearly was something they thought included. In some instances, it is the same category. Whether around the world, or pretty close to home. At any rate, it made me think.
I love the book of Jonah. I have been blessed to be able to preach about it, deep dive some into it, and then today, watch the Bible Project video on it, not planned, just was the next in the series we are watching on the Old Testament. Part of the reason I like the book was something they pointed out in the video today in a way. The book is written in such a way that we are ultimately supposed to ask the question... How do I identify with Jonah? His racism? His nationalism? His jealousness? His selfishness? His anger with God? His stubbornness? I mean, when you read his story, it is really highlighting that for a prophet...what a jerk he was. And how good God is.
The book ends with a question from God to Jonah...about whether he is ok or not with the fact that God could forgive and reconcile his enemies to Him. There is no answer given...God asks the question, and that is it. I can only imagine what Jonah would answer...he displayed his feelings pretty clearly for the people of Ninevah throughout his journey. He wanted to see them all in hell, even their animals (God mentions them too.)
What if God was asking that of me though?
Sometimes we as humans get caught up in the human race...like it is a competition, trying to get ahead, or keep ahead. Either fighting for our privilege, fighting against people we think are worse than we are, trying to feel better about ourselves by putting someone down, keeping our heads in the sand because it is in our own best interest, or just reliving prejudices we got from someone else.
What if we prayed and worked, and tried to love others...even the people we may not think nice things about for whatever reason, whether real or not, to treat them the way we want to be treated, and in reflection of how God loves us?
The race isn't to get ahead of anyone...our goal should be to get us all closer together...and closer together getting closer to Christ. Hand in hand, no matter the color, the country, the tribe, etc.
That is not some sappy platitude!!! We are supposed to live it, we are supposed to breathe it. We are supposed to proclaim it and work to help everyone be on the same path together...body and soul. We are supposed to tell it to our kids, and to anyone and everyone! It's part of our mission as Christians!
It won't always make us popular, or liked...it is one other reason that will actually cause us to be hated, persecuted, and made fun of. People will try to distract us by trying to get us off topic or say we are trying to get away from the Gospel or whatever, there are many reactions. I don't avoid it because I know it will offend people...but no matter how you touch on it, people will be offended all the same. It is part of the Gospel, and that good news not only frees, but offends. Racism has not part of the Gospel. Working against that seems a natural part of what we should be doing.
History shows that as people/societies, we love to scape goat people different from us, where they are from, how wealthy they are, their race...someone they can blame all their problems on, direct their misplaced anger towards, base their assumptions of superiority on, etc. In sin, in selfishness, we want to be better, on top, to feel superior.
God calls us to follow His lead. Even when he chose Israel, and in the Old Testament, there is call after call about how God's Kingdom would ultimately be made up of people from EVERY nation.
Loving our neighbor as ourselves means also trying to learn from them, see things the ways they see them, understand, empathize with them...before we try to answer, or object, or say how we think they are wrong.
I don't know. I just want to cry. I'll do that, for the injustices continually around us, and for my part in them. But I also want to help, to learn, to understand more.
Got something I could learn in general, something I am missing, or from my past with you, in all this? Email me, let's talk. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Let's talk regardless, it would benefit me to know what you think, whether you agree with me or not.
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