Walking with Christ in risk is a process of growth -- we can grow in risk by knowing Christ deeper, by keeping eternity in view, and by treasuring His...
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.
The stories of the last three months have been heartbreaking.
Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd.
We mourn each of these deaths. We grieve injustice. These stories expose the sinful seed of racism and white supremacy, planted long ago in our country, that we’re still seeking to uproot. We are consistently reminded that racism remains in both overt and covert ways, embedded systemically in our country. And for that, we lament. We cry out with the Psalmist, “How long oh Lord, how long?”
What can I do?
That’s been the lingering question for so many in our church family. “What part can I play in healing the racial wounds in our country?”
The first answer is to pray.
As John Bunyan reminds us, "You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” If God doesn’t move, it won’t matter what you do. For Jesus’ take, see John 15:5.
Pray for God to do what only He can do.
Pray for clarity on what you can, and should, do.
What you should do isn’t one-size-fits-all. It’s particular. To find the particular part God wants you to play in His purposes, prayerfully consider who you are, what God has entrusted to you, and how to leverage what He’s given you for a more just world.
“What can I do?” Here are four areas of life to prayerfully consider.
Before we attempt to change our world, we must first be changing ourselves. Humility. Repentance. Abiding in Jesus. Moral fervor void of Jesus often descends into the very thing it’s against. But moral fervor with Jesus has accomplished great good in our world.
We can also reach out across racial lines to develop friendships. There are many things you can do beyond developing a diverse life, but few things before it. Commit to developing friendships with those who don’t look or think like you.
We can also learn. This moment in our country’s history isn’t happening in a vacuum, it’s embedded into a 400-year story. We cannot move forward by burying the past, but by acknowledging it, lamenting over it, and turning from it. So commit to grow, learn, hear another’s perspective, and to understand. For resources, see below.
Prayerfully consider, what sort of changes is Jesus asking of me?
Every parent is a pastor. And parents, this is one area your kids need a tender-hearted shepherd. One of your largest areas of influence, a way you’ll make lasting change for generations to come is by investing in the lives of your kids. And may our children, by the grace of God, lead us deeper into justice, racial harmony, and human flourishing than we’ve ever been. May that be our parental legacy.
So open up conversations about race, justice, and human flourishing. Involve people who don’t look (or think) like you in those conversations. Work to move your kids beyond colorblindness to see and celebrate the various cultures and ethnicities of the world. Plant in your kids an eager expectation of heaven (Revelation 5:9-10), and a desire to see more of it come down to earth now. For resources, see below.
Prayerfully consider, how can I steward my God-given influence toward my children?
As a church, we’ve set our course toward becoming a diverse family. We’ve done that because we know, left to herself, the church will gravitate to sameness. The decades-old sentence of Martin Luther King Jr. remains true today, “We must face the sad fact that at the eleven o'clock hour on Sunday morning when we stand to sing, we stand in the most segregated hour in America…and the most segregated school is Sunday school."
Oneness in a diverse church is beautiful, enriching, and Jesus exalting. But the path to oneness is difficult, painful, and exposing. It forces each of us to see from another’s perspective, to work through misunderstandings, and to love one another in ways that require Jesus-like sacrifice. The Scriptures call that love.
And there’s much at stake. I agree with the wisdom of Pastor Tony Evans in his book, "Oneness Embraced,”
Racial strife is still a problem in our country because racial reconciliation has not been a priority in the church… The reason we haven’t solved the race problem in America after hundreds of years is that people apart from God are trying to create unity, while people under God who already have unity are not living out the unity we possess. The result of both of these conditions is disastrous for America. Our failure to find cultural unity as a nation is directly related to the church’s failure to preserve our spiritual unity… In so doing, we have limited the degree to which the healing balm of God’s grace flows freely from us into our communities, and ultimately throughout our land.
So church, let’s grow. Let’s stay in school as a humble learner. Let’s stay at the table when it’s hard. Let’s walk by faith. Let’s take risks. Let’s step out to find out. There’s too much at stake.
And you, friend, have a role to play in our church becoming a diverse family.
As a part of this church family, you’re helping us create a culture that celebrates diversity. Through pleading prayer, broadening your relationships across the church, bearing one another’s burdens, weeping with those who weep, embracing oneness, wading into uncomfortable conversations, listening well, participating in our Gospel & Race class, repenting, you are helping the church become a conduit of grace to the culture.
Prayerfully consider, how can I steward my God-given influence in Jesus’ church?
The mission God’s given the gathered church is narrow. We often summarize it in two phrases, “Enjoy Jesus. Make Disciples.” Those phrases summarize the marching orders for the gathered church.
But the scattered church has a diverse and multifaceted mission. Every son and daughter of God has the privilege of taking Jesus with them into the everyday corners of the earth they occupy.
Neighborhoods. Schools. Government. Police Departments. Entertainment Industry. Social Work. The list is endless.
My ongoing prayer for our church family is that God would plant a vision of justice and human flourishing in our hearts, He would give us eyes to see injustice in all its forms (both personal and systemic), and then move each of us into the world to use the influence gifted to us to put back together what’s broken.
So, consider your life Monday through Friday. Where are you? What do you do? What is your influence? What power do you have? What corner of the world has Jesus called you to?
Now, how can you bring about more human flourishing there? More justice? How can you participate with the risen Jesus to fix something that’s broken in this world? Step out to find out. See what God might do through a simple step of faith.
Prayerfully consider, how can I steward my God-given influence in my community?
Stonegate, let’s be open to Jesus. Let’s ask Jesus for clarity. He loves to talk to His children. He loves to lead His children through His Spirit who dwells in us.
What can I do?
Let’s find the answer.
BOOKS FOR ADULTS
- Be the Bridge, Latasha Morrison
- Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian, John Piper
- The Color of Compromise, Jemar Tisby
- Woke Church, Eric Mason
- Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America, by Christian Smith and Michael Emerson
- One Blood, John Perkins
- Letter from a Birmingham Jail, by Martin Luther King Jr.
- The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson
- Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, by Frederick Douglass
PODCASTS, VIDEOS, WEBSITES
- Scene on Radio’s ‘Seeing White’ series (podcast)
- Acts 29 Panel on Race
- Be the Bridge (Website & Facebook Group)
BOOKS FOR KIDS
- God Made Me and You, by Shai Linne
- God’s Very Good Idea: A True Story About God’s Delightfully Different Family, Trillia Newbell
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