Let’s Talk, but also LISTEN To One Another

“Where do I go when life or the circumstances and problems within it absolutely crush and overwhelm me?”
“To whom can I turn for comfort, understanding, peace and guidance?”
“How do I start a conversation with someone when I’m not sure how or even if they are going to respond?”
“How did we get to this place and are we really ever going to be able to get out of it?”

If you’ve found yourself asking these questions or any that are like it, take heart; you are not alone. As I continue to read, listen, work to empathize, and learn, I came across an article this week that I found interesting so, once again, I thought I would share. Not lost on me was the fact that it wasn’t written in the last several weeks…or even months.

It’s from 2016.

In reviewing and introducing you to this article, I won’t go into every detail, so please exercise caution and care before making any assumptions regarding my positions or even jumping to any conclusions of your own. My purpose in presenting it is to get us thinking and ideally to provide a platform and catalyst for some meaningful dialogue going forward.

Having said that, I will say that I don’t find it to be necessarily biased from one perspective or another; it seems to have something to say to every one of us, but particularly those who claim Christ as Savior and the Lord of our lives.

It’s entitled, “Racial Reconciliation May Not Be What You Think It Is” and you can read it in its entirety via this link. It takes the long view and springs forth from several key premises:
1. The primary fruit of the Gospel in addition to going to heaven when you die is the miraculous new family that is created out of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
2. Christ isn’t only a bridge that gets us back in communion with God but a sledgehammer that breaks down the walls that threaten to separate us.
In Matthew 12:25, Jesus teaches that every kingdom or household divided against itself will be ruined and will not stand.

In taking a look at what it means to reflect reality, the author suggests we must first clarify what is meant by racial reconciliation and states that before we can move forward, we must examine ways that have led us backward. You may read more deeply about these points in the full article.
1. Reconciliation is not colorblindness.
2. Racial reconciliation is not diversity.
“When the Gospel is deeply at work, racial reconciliation results in a diverse community that embraces the unique gifts and acknowledges the distinctive sins of their ethnic-racial-social makeup while experiencing loving communion under the Lordship of Jesus.”

Wow! As the author goes on to say, “This is a nice vision, but to get there means we have a lot of work to do.”

Racial Reconciliation (especially in the US) requires us to have a number of items we thoughtfully work through as the people of God. Hopefully, this shortlist can help us get going.

7 Initial Things Racial Reconciliation Requires

1. A deep commitment to listening to others even when it’s hard
– “To listen to another’s soul may be almost the greatest service that any human being ever performs for another.” – Douglas Steere
2. An honest wrestling with the history of racial oppression in our country
– On a personal level, we can’t understand our present reality without an honest recognition of our past.
3. Cultivating the language and practice of grief and lament
– In the practice of lamenting, we pour out our souls to God, and in turn receive grace to respond.
– Lamenting is an act that promotes individual and personal shalom.
4. Personal acceptance and appreciation of your racial/ethnic identity
– The gospel doesn’t dissolve our differences, it celebrates them.
– It serves as a reminder that the kingdom of God is a rich buffet.
5. A deep spirituality of prayer
– The racial hostility in our world is so deep we would be mistaken that we can make significant progress without the deep spirituality of prayer.
6. Growing in awareness of our implicit racial bias
– We have all been socialized by our families of origin and surrounding culture to see people in particular ways.
– In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls us to the way of interiority, that is, gaining awareness of the underlining feelings and thoughts that often lead to violence against others.
7. Regular confession, repentance and forgiveness
– Reconciliation requires regular confession, repentance and forgiveness.
– We come together as deeply broken and frail people.

In the church in which I grew up, most Sundays, we would pray what is known as the prayer of confession. Repeating that frequently, one must take care not to allow it to simply become ritual. I share it here as the author of the article did in the hope that it may cause each of us a deeper introspection as we work for racial reconciliation. And to those earlier questions with which I opened this writing…

Let’s pray:
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name.
With you,