WHAT HAPPENED WHEN WE TALKED ABOUT RACISM
As I announced in this space two weeks ago, we talked about racism at church Sunday. People who haven’t been in church for awhile came to see what we would say, and more than one of them told me afterwards, “A church like this is the church I want to be a part of.”
Longtime members said the same. “Thanks for today. I want to be part of a church that addresses issues like this one.”
It was a stake-in-the-ground day not only for Christ’s Church, but for THE church. Too many congregations are looking away or accepting the status quo, staying silent about the problem of racism.
And it’s not just white congregations. An African-American visitor who regularly attends a predominantly black church in the city said she doesn’t hear about racism at her church, either.
But the panel members who spoke Sunday agreed that racism is still a problem, not only in America in general, but also in the American church.
Hear their whole discussion HERE. They talk about roots of racism and share how they’ve experienced racial bias. The impact of their testimony is more than I can convey in this short space. I highly encourage you to watch and share with others.
We agreed that racial reconciliation is not the issue; the issue is racial unity. There’s nothing in African American history to reconcile today’s black men and women back to. We must move forward.
Scripture can help us.
We looked at Peter’s transformation, recorded in Acts 10, when God told this Jewish leader to love and preach to Gentiles too. “God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean,” Peter told the Roman Cornelius (v. 28*).
We read sentences from Paul’s letter to the Colossians: “In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us” (Colossians 3:11*).
We made a plea for all Christians to live in the light of God’s love: “If anyone claims, ‘I am living in the light,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who . . . hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness” (1 John 2:9-11*).
Earlier in the service, Christon had sung a powerful song that speaks to the the African-American man’s world that is different from the experience of a white man living in our country. (See his performance of “Black Male” here:)
And at the end of the service, I washed the feet of my brothers on the platform, as a symbol of service and our church’s commitment to racial unity.
These were emotional moments. There’s so much healing when you’re willing to talk about a problem that has too long festered below the surface. And there’s so much progress possible when Christians of every race determine to obey the Bible’s command, “Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3*).
When have you experienced racism? What would it take for your church to shine a light that would help move your community beyond it?
*Scripture quotes in this week’s post are from the New Living Translation.