“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
When the issue of race comes up, it’s often in the context of a negative or heavy conversation. Tensions rise. Joy fades. The conversation limps on, if at all, as a conversation we have to deal with, not one we get to work through. Should it be that way?
As Christians, we engage in conversation about many important issues. But there is one conversation we are reluctant to have…race. We have probably tried and found it uncomfortable and/or awkward. When we get together with family we don’t want to talk about politics; or our relative’s past issues or problems that we don’t want to rehash; or our aunt’s gout; the money our cousin owes us. But at the top of the list is race. Well-intentioned people think that slavery was abolished over 150 years ago, we have had a black president, so race is no longer an issue that we need to talk about. But that is wrong.
We need to talk about racism because everyone else is. Christians need a place at the table. We have a powerful perspective. Armed with God’s Word, Jesus’ example, the Spirit’s leading—we have a lot to bring to the table. We need to talk because God has spoken. When God speaks it should silence all other voices.
Many of us lived our whole life in mostly white neighborhoods, attended mostly white schools, teachers were mostly white, attended a majority white church; this is the world we know. We need to step out of that world. The more we engage in conversations about race, the more we will understand how racism is ongoing in the current era and how it continues to impact people of color.
We must invite into dialogue those we ordinarily would not seek out. We must work to form relationships with those we might not regularly meet. Only by forging authentic relationships can we truly see each other as Christ sees us. This is an ongoing work that may never be done in our lifetime; it’s been around for hundreds of years, and it doesn’t go away overnight. The work is a lifelong, continual effort.
Let’s start today.
- Are you comfortable having conversations on race? If not, why not?
- How can having these conversations help us spiritually?