This is the last of our five posts following up the March Life: From All Angles elective teaching and today we talk about the r-word: race. In our March session on race, I began with the following insight from Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile from his blog Pure Church, "'Race' is not only powerful, it's also about power." (See https://blogs.
To say that this conversation doesn’t matter is to misunderstand the very mission of Jesus in the gospel. He does not eliminate cultural differences for the sake of plain unity. Instead, “he has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…to create in himself one new humanity out of the two (Jew and Gentile, a war raged concerning ethnic identity), thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” (Ephesians 2:14-16, NIV) This reconciliation and unification is one that shines in all its glory at the end of the biblical story in Revelation 5:9 and 7:9-10 where persons from every nation, tribe, people and language are before the throne of God, purchased by the blood of the lamb, and praising him. They are still different, but they are also one in Christ.
This conversation is not easy to have, but we must have it. God is at work in it and the storyline of the Bible testifies to his work of unity within diversity. If you are wondering how to enter the conversation, here are a few resources:
- Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith
- United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity by Trillia J. Newbell
- Check out the bookshelf of the Reformed African American Network
- The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
- 13th: From Slave to Criminal with One Amendment from Ava DuVernay (Check Netflix)
- The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story from Ryan Murphy (Check Netflix)
SOCIAL MEDIA: Diversify your feeds
- Huffington Post—Black Voices
- Reformed African American Network
- Follow: Trillia Newbell; Anthony Bradley; Thabiti Anyabwile; D.A. Horton
LISTEN TO IT:
If you are wanting some suggestions about what you can do, here are a few:
- Pray that God would position you to take action for the cause of racial reconciliation.
- Think like a missionary
- Start with acquaintances: Maybe there’s someone in church who is of a different race. You know each other, but you’ve never spent significant time together or had a substantive conversation. Why not invite that person out to coffee or have their family over for dinner? It’s a natural, organic way to deepen a relationship you already have.
- Don’t over-complicate friendships: It doesn't have to be perfect or feel like walking on eggshells. Offer friendship and pursue an authentic relationship.
- Find new places to hang out: Such as ethnic restaurants or Sports/Clubs/Activities. Why not join a YMCA or city league or a local club?
- Intentionality: We don’t naturally gravitate toward those who are different from us. We naturally gather in similar groups. We have to do something unnatural, or rather, supernatural, to break the cycles of social sameness that hinder racial reconciliation.
- Interrupt ignorance: If someone is making a stereotype about a people group, then stop and ask, “Why did you say that?” or, “Hey, you might want to rephrase that.”