Last week I was talking with my friend Chris Brooks about the church and racism, and how we need to move forward with a multi-ethnic movement that becomes less about being diverse and more about being the church – accepting of all people no matter their context, color, or capability. For thirty minutes we shared hopes and dreams, where we each were in the movement, how we’ve both actively worked for this cause for years, and what we are doing about it moving forward.
Then Charlottesville happened.
The crazy part – it’s been happening for a long time for a lot of people. Since the scourge of slavery and before, our great nation has taken it upon ourselves to dismiss civility and embrace divisiveness. Instead of diversity winning the day, we have allowed division to sit upon its throne.
How easy was it for the church in Charlottesville to assume everything was OK in their city, until all of a sudden, it wasn’t. In some ways, I am (was) in this place. I go to a diverse church in North County San Diego. And while it’s not the perfect mosaic of ethnicities and backgrounds, in the span of five minutes since arriving on campus for service over the weekend, I saw: black, white, hispanic, asian, and pacific islander. This was just in five minutes. It’s easy to assume silence equals semblance. Until of course, it doesn’t.
If it takes a riot to bring things to our attention, then we aren’t doing a good job of listening, or being the church.
“I obvs am not ignorant of the last few hundreds years so I get the history butwhat exactly is the argument ontheir side? otherthanbeingcrazy” – Mark A Clark
Jesus confronted this with the woman at the well. In the span of what must have been only a few minutes, he challenged her thoughts (and ours) on race, class, gender, sexuality, acceptance, hate, religion, and love.
This only happened because he chose to sit down and talk.
For those of you who are singling out others for only using their words: give it some time. Let our voices raise and move us to action. Calling people out for using social media to be a sounding board is not only hurtful, it’s not helpful. You are but a resounding gong and your words are fruitless. Let people’s words invite and inspire action.
The best conversations start with a single sentence.
Jesus talked. We talk. Jesus moved. So we must move too. Move from words to words and deeds.
“If the only time u preach on race or racism is when there is a racial flare up, you are missing the reconciling work of Jesus. Eph 2:11-22” – Derwin Grey
You can’t just use your words to combat racism, in as much as you cannot just protest to show your disapproval of an unfair and unjust system. You must be able to both stand up and speak out. But before you get to that point, you first need to be able to listen.
As a white middle-class male in a suburban context, I know that silence does not equate to everything going great for everyone. In fact, I understand that it usually means the exact opposite. As a leader in the church space, I also understand that the single greatest way to dismiss racism and embrace the multi-ethnic voice Jesus calls us to.
This will happen as we create new opportunities for people who don’t look and act like us. It will happen as we intentionally promote people of color to higher leadership positions. It will happen as churches begin to look more and more like our neighborhoods. I cannot go out of the front doors of my house without seeing the nations of this world look back at me. It should be the same for my time with my church.
Yes. I am using my voice. But I am also using my position to promote a more diverse life. I am already doing this with my family and friends, and will work harder at doing it for my work and my church.
Stop saying this cannot happen again. It’s happening everyday. The only way for you to help stop it in its tracks is to talk about it today. Then do something about it tomorrow.
You down? Let’s talk.