Continuing to ignore and push past the sin of racism in our country’s and churches’ histories in an effort to “just get along” will only hurt the witness of the body of Christ (the church) further. As followers of Christ, we must acknowledge and address the hurt and pain of people made in the image of God if we want to move toward true oneness.
In order to do that, we must individually and corporately reflect on our own hearts and God’s heart for His people. Within our own hearts, we must ask God to reveal the areas in which we are complicit or have bias and ask Him to intercede.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” — Psalm 139: 23-24 (New International Version)
If you’ve already considered that there is something more to the story of those who are different from you, consider asking God questions like: “What am I missing?” “Who am I not understanding — what people or group?” “What parts of history am I forgetting, ignoring or misunderstanding?” Jesus saw the marginalized, and much of His ministry was dedicated to letting them know they were seen, loved and valued.
Reflect on God’s heart for unity:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that you gave Me, that they may be one as We are one — I in them and You in Me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” — John 17:20-23 (NIV)
If we are to see any progress at all, it will begin with our own hearts and then pour out into our relationships. Remember, being one doesn’t mean we ignore our differences. Jesus and the Father are one, but they are also distinct persons in the Trinity. This will not be an easy journey, but it is a worthy one because it’s important to God and so must be important to us.
Here are some resources to help you begin the journey toward racial reconciliation.
HISTORY OF RACE IN THE UNITED STATES
Free at Last: The Gospel in the African American Experience by Carl Ellis
THEOLOGY AND RACE IN THE CHURCH
LEARNING CULTURAL SELF
UNDERSTANDING THE EFFECTS OF RACISM ON MY LIFE AND SOCIETY
RESPOND: LAMENT / REPENTANCE (Personal and Corporate)
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