It started with reading a book called, “Being White.”
My journey to loving my brothers and sisters outside my culture, the majority culture, has been a learning experience and rich relationship-building experience.
There were elements of the book that reinforced the reality of privilege for me. I realized I was bringing my own “white culture” into every relationship I had.
After becoming more aware of my priviledge, the public outcry following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., reminded me of a quote:
“A follower of Christ should have a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other,” wrote John Stott, author of The Contemporary Christian.
When the grand jury decision on Ferguson came down, I asked two African-American friends about how they were personally experiencing the conflict in Ferguson.
Just asking them the question gave me reservations. Would they be insulted? Would I look like a fool? Would this question hurt our friendship? But they were grateful I took the time to ask. In fact, I was the only white person to ask them.
Their response nudged me to speak with another African-American friend about Ferguson. I looked in my phone for his number. To my surprise, I didn’t have it.
I scrolled through hundreds of names in my phone, shocked to discover that only two or three numbers belonged to ethnic-minority friends. God’s Spirit convicted me that this wasn’t right. I was missing something.
“Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, 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 2:12-16, New International Version).
By faith, I’m now stewarding my own ethnicity, my friendships and my opportunities. My wife and I joined a Bible study group that is more ethnically diverse. Being among people of different backgrounds now pushes me to be willing to “go there” with ethnic topics as I encounter them in the scriptures, the church and the world.
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 2:26-29, NIV).
I have seen the Lord “pop” passages about crossing cultures off the page, like the above passages from Galatians and Ephesians. He has shown me in Acts 6 and 8 the theology of ethnicity and enabled me to use the Scriptures in my devotionals. He has shown me that I must advocate for those not like me and welcome those advocating for me.
I have begun to learn and love better through reading about ethnic minority history in America, learning, listening and intentionally moving toward friendships by faith.
Can I challenge you to take time to think about how you and I view our own culture, the truth of the history of cultures in America and how you and I view our relationships?
Will you take time to keep learning history and listen well in learning about cultures different than your own? Are you willing to build into relationships and study Scripture passages that challenge you?
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I went through a period where I was struggling with feelings of anxiety and guilt about my performance as a Christian. Then God showed me I was looking at myself and my flaws in the wrong way.
If we Christians don’t take reconciliation seriously, we are creating an added barrier between people and Jesus. How can we practically be a part of the solution, not the problem?
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