"Blood and soil," they chanted, invoking racist Nazi rhetoric of the past. With what appeared to be a fire of hatred in their eyes, these White Nationalists marched the Grounds of our University and our city seeking to instill fear. They came in hundreds. They came with guns. They came with torches.
How can one respond to such blatant hate, especially when it hits so close to home? Jesus said his followers are the light of the world, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden (Matt. 5:14). As campus ministers at the University of Virginia, we had to think about what carrying this "light" would mean for us. How would we bear the torch of God’s fire for the world?
So we came with prayer. In the aftermath of the violence on our campus and city, we decided to host a prayer walk along the same path the White Supremacists took at our university. We prayed for the reconciliation, healing, love, and truth of God to reclaim what the enemy sought to steal. At various locations, we stopped and prayed out loud specific prayers for God to intervene at UVA. Many of our students and members from other ministries joined us in a moment of Christian solidarity.
We came with conversations. As the forces of darkness sought to build a wall of division between people, we built a conversation wall, literally. It stood all of 8 feet tall and 12 feet wide. Across the top, where everyone could read, we wrote: “How can you address racism?” In just three hours, the wall filled with hundreds of written responses from students of diverse backgrounds expressing their frustrations, solutions, and hopes. We engaged these students with gospel-centered conversations, offering Jesus as the solution to a world in division. It was the boldest question we’ve ever asked publically at our university, but sometimes we need our strategies to match up against what we’re fighting.
We came with attentive ears. “Christians, especially ministers, so often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others, that this is the one service they have to render,” Bonhoeffer writes in Life Together. How many times have we been quick to speak, to assume, or to overlook because we fail to intentionally listen? During this time of heightened racial tension in our country, I’ve discovered how humbling and instructive it is to engage with the experiences of our ethnic minority students. We learn a great deal when we take the time to see our world through a different lens. Take Bonhoeffer’s advice: “listening can be a greater service than speaking.”
The task is far from over, and let’s be humble enough to admit we don’t always get things right. It is out of our necessity that we turn to our God for courage, peace, and wisdom as we seek to carry his torch of reconciliation.
No matter what campus you find yourself in, it is such a strategic time to be on university campuses. We all, as campus ministers, have so much exciting work to do! In Christ, we have the answer for what our country and the world is yearning for-- the ministry of reconciliation. Let us labor with love and unity to be His ambassadors on our campus.
As you process what all this means for you and your specific university campus, I encourage you to pray. Pray for the connections your students are making on your campus Pray for those on your campus who are hurting, angry, or fearful. Pray for unity in the community of believers at our universities. Together, as the body of Christ, we can make His light shine like a city on a hill which cannot be hidden! Together we can persevere to continue reconciling students to Christ!
Chi Alpha at the University of Virginia
As a campus pastor, one of my responsibilities is to lead core group/Bible study. Tell me why last year every single girl in my core group was an incredibly beautiful black woman.
As we shared tears and hugs when historical racial wounds flared to the forefront of campus, I saw their strength and resilience. As we laughed and joked, I saw their beauty, and it inspired me to see my own beauty in my blackness. For the first time, I began stepping into the realization that God made me black for a reason.
I am not black because God left me out in the sun too long and I got a bit too crispy. I am black because I have a powerful purpose that God desires to use in a way that is unique to my ethnicity. My blackness is a gift, not a burden. As a dear friend once told me, “You have the ability to affect change and to draw others into the body of christ because your story is unlike anyone else's. It’s not black girl magic, it is the God-given gift to be the representation of Christ as you are. You will always be and have always been black, and it will always be a part how God uses you in community.” Powerful words yo, powerful words.
And so that’s what brought me here. To the big chop. I realized I wanted to fully embrace all that God has created me to be. When God said I was created in his image, he didn’t mean every part EXCEPT my hair. Shoot, for all we know, God could be rocking a fro up there in Heaven. That would be LIT #justsayin.
So, I'm learning to embrace my curls. Though I have been entering into this deeper realization of and appreciation for the intersection between my faith and my ethnicity, I do not doubt I will have to keep coming back to this post. It’s taken me nearly a week to write this and already I’ve gone from feeling on top of the world with my hair to feeling as though I look like a 12 year-old boy. I already know as my hair grows it’s going to be a constant tug-of-war between love and hate as I struggle to understand it and learn best how to take care of my hair in it’s natural state. But I’m excited, ya’ll, and I’m going to do my best to document this process. May I continue to remember that I am beautiful not because of my hair, but because the joy of the Lord is my strength and God's glorious light shines through me!
This post was originally posted on prettyforablackgirl.blogspot.com titled "How Did I Get Here?" that shares Nia's testimony of how she made the decision to do the "big chop" and her journey of discovering her identity as a black woman in the Lord.
Nia Campinha-Bacote is currently serving as staff for Chi Alpha at Yale University.
The next 6 years I spent in utter bliss with my Keratin treatments that loosened my curls, but transformation slowly began to creep in.
It started at Brown University when my perception of myself as the “exceptional black girl” was challenged. My experiences in high school had made believe I was the exception to the rule that blacks belonged behind bars or entrenched in poverty. Brown forced me to confront the fact that I had spent 18 years defining black as synonymous with adjectives like ignorant, violent, and poor.
As I enrolled in Africana courses and Ethnic Studies classes at Brown, I began to scratch the surface of what it looked like to embrace the melanin that ran through my veins. I wasn’t perfect and still had (have) a long way to go, but little by little, I began to see how my world had been inundated with things (media, people, images, classes) telling me black was inherently less than. Looking back, I believe it wasn't so much as what I was taught in high school and middle school, but what I wasn't taught. I wasn't taught about redlining--the systematic discrimination of refusing blacks housing loans/mortgages/insurance in specific areas up that still affects communities of color today. I wasn't taught about food deserts--the lack of nutritional markets and non-fast-food restaurants existing in lower-income, minority neighborhoods. The list is endless.
After graduating from Brown, I served a year in ministry as a campus pastor for undergraduates at Yale. And that’s when things got real.
Stay tuned for part 3 out of 3 next week of Nia's journey on drivingdiversity.org!
This post was originally posted on prettyforablackgirl.blogspot.com titled "How Did I Get Here?" that shares Nia's testimony of how she made the decision to do the "big chop" and her journey of discovering her identity as a black woman in the Lord.
Nia Campinha-Bacote is currently serving as staff for Chi Alpha at Yale University.
Several people have asked me if there was a reason why I did the big chop. The answer is yes and it’s a long one. I want to use this post to share part of my life story, and I hope others who have had similar experiences will know they’re not alone and may be encouraged to fully embrace the person God has created them to be.
I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood, school system, and church. I was the only black person in my accelerated and AP classes, and I was constantly deemed as “the white black girl”. The oreo. To be fair, I very much bought into this jargon and these beliefs. Often times it was me calling myself an oreo and feeling proud as my jokes about being the only smart black person brought about laughter.
For a majority of my life, I didn’t see people who looked like me. I’m not just talking about not seeing a black person in a position of power or leadership (save a few high school teachers--shout out to Mr. Harris and Dr. Kennedy). I’m talking about not being surrounded by any peers who looked like me. When I looked around my classes I saw White, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Pakistani. But no black. Naturally, not being surrounded by anyone who looked like me meant not seeing anybody with hair like mine. So when my mom started chemically straightening my hair with a relaxer, I had no qualms. As a 10-year-old, I wanted to fit in and have long and straight hair like the rest of my friends. I wanted my hair to be “normal” and my kinky hair with curls and coils galore most assuredly did not fit that mold.
For the next 4 years, I used a relaxer to chemically straighten my hair until my scalp became too sensitive and the relaxer began leaving burns and scabs on my head. My hairdresser suggested I switch to Keratin, a protein treatment that loosened my natural curl pattern, but there was one catch--I had to wait 2 years to grow my hair out because using the Keratin on previously relaxed hair would completely break off my hair. Those two years I spent growing out my natural hair caused me to resent my hair like you wouldn’t believe.
Though I look happy in the picture, those two years of growing out my hair were THE WORST. Those two years were my freshman and sophomore years of high school--crucial years, y’all. To make matters worse, freshman year at my high school was the year swimming was required every week for gym class. EVERY. WEEK. I will never forget that class. Fit to Learn. Week after week I struggled fitting swimming caps over my ever growing fro, and week after week, my hair always managed to get wet and messed up. I remember trying to fit my hair into a nice bun or ponytail like all my other friends with the tiny elastic bands, but my hair ties were so quick to break, and even if they didn’t, my hair never looked right. It was too thick. Too curly. Too frizzy. Too nappy.
As soon as year two hit, I was in my hairdresser’s chair ready to do whatever I needed to do to get my hair back to “normal”. After she did my first Keratin treatment, I remember seeing my silky soft, smooth hair return and feeling a wave of relief pass through my body. Those two years on the wild side had made me terrified of my natural hair, and never once would I think I would return natural.
Stay tuned for part 2 out of 3 next week of Nia's journey on drivingdiversity.org!
Rigoberto is a guest contributing author on Driving Diversity and is currently serving as a Chi Alpha Missionary Associate at The University of Virginia.
Hello, my name is Rigoberto and I’m diverse. Okay, glad we got that out of the way. I bet you’re dying to know if, as a Hispanic, I dream in English or Spanish. The answer is both. Anything else you’d like to know about my diversity before we continue?
Years ago, as a teenager, an older Caucasian woman asked me a question about my dreams. I don’t fully recall the context of the conversation, but I do recall what direction the conversation went towards: the emphasis of my “otherworldliness” as a Hispanic. I have no doubt this kind woman meant no harm, and luckily, I was too young to take offense.
Unfortunately, the trap of racial assumption, more eloquently termed by social psychologists as categorizing, is one that we as Christian leaders often fall prey to.
I recently met a student at a university. He described himself as a mixture of different races, including Indian and Turkish. Due to the fact that his prominent physical features resembled that of someone from India, fellow Indian students criticized his lack of proficiency in the Hindi language and rejected him.
Do you see where I’m going with this? Assumptions make donkeys out of you and me . . .
Fortunately, no one is innocent of this! Categorizing is a normal process that helps us all make sense of our natural world, including interacting with diverse individuals. It’s only natural that we would identify individuals of a cultural group by our previous experience with that specific culture.
Christena Cleveland, a social psychologist, professor, and author of the book Disunity in Christ, writes that when we categorize individuals we cease to view them as members of the body of Christ and perceive them as indistinct members of a cultural group instead. “By focusing on smaller, distinct categories for church groups, we erect and fixate on divisions that are far less important than the larger, diverse group of members of the body of Christ,” writes Cleveland.
Operating with an awareness of our natural tendency to categorize and to make sweeping racial assumptions can help us honor one another better. We must intentionally rise above our habits to pursue more personal levels of understanding that show us we are one body with many parts.
Here are three quick tips to help you avoid racial assumptions during first encounters:
1. Ask personal questions before you ask cultural questions. It’s important for people to know that you are genuinely interested in them as a person, not just a minority; African American, Latino, Filipino, etc. Ask them about their personal interests, what their dream job is, and where they grew up before you ask them about their cultural background.
2. Ask sensitive questions. Please don’t ask me if I grew up eating refried beans and tortillas as much as the orphans in Nacho Libre (the answer is yes, by the way). Ask significant questions -- questions that are thoughtful, and questions that foster depth.
3. Don’t focus strictly on questions about culture/race. Let’s make sure our conversation doesn’t single them out for their diversity. They have much to contribute apart from their cultural/racial experiences.
I’d like to emphasize that I’m no pro at this -- even as a Hispanic I often get this wrong. I don’t always have the right answers. That’s why humility is always the key when interacting with our brothers and sisters from diverse backgrounds. In Humility, Andrew Murray writes that “humility towards men will be the only sufficient proof that our humility before God is real . . .”
Be willing to listen, be willing to apologize when you unintentionally offend, and, please, be willing to persevere when it gets tough and potentially awkward (can I get an “Amen” somebody?). Love and humility will heal a multitude of sins.
In an increasingly politically correct mission field like the university campus, we need to get a better grip of loving well, lest we discredit ourselves with the first question we ask.
Now, tell me, where can I find the best taco truck in your town?
Disunity in Christ by Christena Cleveland
Humility by Andrew Murray
The Bible by God
The statement “I have a friend who’s Black” or a similar statement is the verbal equivalent of your pre-pubescent crush punching you in the stomach to show her affection. When this statement is said by a white person, they are trying to show that they know about black culture and are not a racist. When this statement is heard by a black person, it lets them know that the white person who said it has no clue about black culture and likely has some prejudice.
I don’t want to insult anyone, but I felt like this might be an opportunity to explain to white people why black people feel this way about this statement and encourage black people in how to respond when this occurs.
For my white folks out there, the reason black people respond the way they do is because it sounds like you are trying to affirm your understanding of black culture or prove that you are not prejudice. However, white people who understand black culture and are familiar with it would never make that statement; they are already so comfortable being around black people that they fit in without effort and the black people know very quickly that they understand and are welcome.
Consider this, very rarely, if ever, have you heard a black person proclaim that they have a friend who is white. This is because they are already so comfortable being around white people and understand the culture so well that they just fit in. And the things that they don’t understand about white culture they can fake or avoid without their white friends even knowing.
I think you get the point, so I’ll move on…
For my black people out there, especially those of us who are followers of Christ, we need to change our response to white people who use the “black friend” proclamation. I know that I have been guilty of marking that person off as prejudice and refusing to have much more to do with them. I now know my response is exactly opposite of what I should have done and what I want to ask you to not do in the future. Instead, we should see that person as someone who is trying to build a bridge with black people and because of their lack of relationships with black people simply don’t know how. I believe that in most cases they want black friends and want to be accepted but have not had anyone really accept their, albeit awkward, olive branch.
Just like that 6 year old girl who beats up the boy she likes, this individual wants a relationship but doesn’t know how to show it. So, I’m asking you, black people, to respond by being their black friend. The first act of friendship can be telling them, “don’t ever say ‘you have a black friend’ again,” and then growing a heart level relationship with them so that they feel comfortable around you and your black friends. Truly help them understand your life, the things that concern you and how you feel about situations concerning race. That relationship is one that will produce fruit in more ways than we can imagine in the world and for the church.
Heart-level black and white friendships, especially in the body of Christ, will transform the church for the glory of God and bring more people into a relationship with Christ.
Growing up in South Dakota I was mostly surrounded by people who looked like me. We may think it’s okay to live and worship only with people who look like us, but really, we need diversity—I believe it is something God requires of us.
Here are a few things I’ve learned that have challenged me:
1. Ethnic diversity is sacred to God. He cares about ALL people and so should we.
2. God doesn’t want us to live or worship segregated.
3. “White privilege” is something Christians need to be aware of and fight against.
4. God is a God of justice and we should be moved to action by all the injustices ethnic minorities have experienced and continue to experience all around us.
Over the last year, I have been working with a campus ministry in Dayton, Ohio. It is so much fun to work in this diverse city. We as a staff team strive to be a ministry that is culturally diverse. We seem to have a long way to go—I am the most diverse person on our team, so far, being a white girl from South Dakota. (Everyone on staff is not only white, but from Ohio!) However, I did meet an African American gal on campus who said our group was “dramatically more diverse” than when she visited a few years ago.
I’ve also started attended the NAACP meetings. I really enjoy going to these and attending different multi-cultural campus events. I don’t talk much at the NAACP meetings, but I am learning a lot and I hope my presence let’s the students there know I care about them. I think it is so important for us as Christians to intentionally go to events where we are the minority. It is important that we know what it feels like to be in a place where our culture is not in the majority.
A few of us from Dayton Chi Alpha have been praying faithfully, almost every week this school year, for diversity in our ministry. I believe we have seen answers to these prayers, but we have a long way to go. It really is a challenge to overcome segregation and unconscious biases, but I am encouraged by God (and I hope you are too) to keep going, to keep putting myself out there, and to believe that God can do great things as we build bridges and come together.
What truths have you discovered on the road of diversity?
I woke up a little after midnight unable to sleep. On Facebook, an African American student from one of our Chi Alpha groups messaged me asking for my prayers and help. The KKK is handing out flyers in his town (more flyers). I can't imagine the many emotions he is feeling, but he told me, "This really angers me, but it angers me to want to do something about it through spreading the love of Christ even more, and how we are all one blood under Christ." I am so proud of this student. In the midst of his own feelings, he is staying focused on Christ’s mission.
So, I am up praying and crying and asking myself, “How can this group still exist today?” But, of course I already know the answer. We are not a post-racial society. There is so much going on in our world, but most in the church are so very ignorant of it that I am inspired today to speak out and bring some truth to bear. Ignorance, by the way, is simply not knowing. There is no shame in not knowing, only in refusing to learn. Let’s start with some basic definitions to help us sort through some of the lies.
Racism. This word gets thrown around a lot, but what is it actually? I like the clarity that sociologist Michael Emerson brings in his paper, “The Persistent Problem”. “Research consistently finds significant differences in the way that racial groups tend to define racism” (e.g., Yancey 2006). Whites tend to view racism as intended individual acts of overt prejudice and discrimination…In short, it defines the person’s essence. To be called “racist” by others then is so very offensive to so many whites because it communicates an amazing charge. It says, “You, white person, walk around holding crazy stereotypes in your head, and you then go around intentionally and directly parading your racial prejudice and discrimination against me and others. Whatever else you may be, white person, this racist label is your master status.” Ouch. No wonder the word makes the blood boil. Most people of color define racism quite differently. Racism is, at a minimum, prejudice plus power, and that power comes not from being a prejudiced individual, but from being part of a group that controls the nation’s systems. So while anyone can be prejudiced, only whites can perpetrate racism in the United States, for they hold and have always held most of the power in American institutions. Even in a nation that currently has a president as black, nearly all senators, representatives, governors, and CEOs, to name a few, are white. This view of racism is called the structuralist definition, and stands in stark contrast to the individualist definition.”
Let’s be clear. Both definitions of racism are sin. The individualist definition violates the sacredness of humanity. The structural definition violates the very essence of the gospel. Those who claim the cross are called to serve and lay down their lives for others, not to use whatever power they might have for self-protection and self-aggrandizement.
White Power/ White Privilege. Here are some more terms that are incredibly misunderstood. Again I turn to Michael Emerson. When trying to understand sociological concepts, turn to a sociologist. He uses the term, “structural advantage” probably to lighten some of the weight.
“White Structural Advantage: As alluded to earlier, white Americans occupy the location of dominance—politically, economically, culturally, and numerically—within the racial hierarchy. They have disproportionate control of influence of political parties, legal system, government-controlled institutions, industry, and business. These structural advantages provide privileges to whites, where privilege here can be defined as benefits accrued by virtue of having a white identity. This advantage is in everyday situations and at institutional levels. Some examples, with varying degrees of significance for life outcomes: whites easily purchase movies, literature, or greeting cards with whites in them; white Americans can ignore the experiences, writings, or ideas of racial/ethnic minorities without penalty; whites are assumed to be middle class, law abiding, and well meaning, unless they prove otherwise (and they will have to work at proving it) whereas for other groups it is typically the opposite; whites have the ability to set laws and policies (in part because elected officials are overwhelmingly white)—including who is defined as white and who is not, the power to interpret what is a racial problem and what is not, who gets into the country and who does not, the ability to pass housing policies that favor their racial group, and whites shape the development of educational curriculums that emphasizes Western history and social experiences, and much more.”
I find people are often offended at the notion that they might have “white power”, like they have done something wrong. Look, if you are white (actually I don’t like that term, but will use it for the purpose of this discussion), the truth is that you do have structural advantages. This does not make you a bad person! If you are a Christian, then I would challenge you to use this advantage for the benefit of others who do not have this advantage. THIS IS THE GOSPEL. Jesus shares his power, privilege, and advantage with us. He has all of these, and does not deny it, but instead uses it.
KKK. I do not claim to be an expert on this group. On the website listed on this flyer they say, “Our goal is to help restore America to a White Christian nation founded on God’s word. This does not mean we want to see anything bad happen to the darker races... we simply want to live separate from them as GOD intended (Lev. 20:24-25).” A few things regarding these two short sentences.
Leviticus 20:24-25 says, “But I said to you, “You will possess their land; I will give it to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the LORD your God, who has set you apart from the nations. “‘You must therefore make a distinction between clean and unclean animals and between unclean and clean birds. Do not defile yourselves by any animal or bird or anything that moves along the ground—those that I have set apart as unclean for you.”
Regarding the scripture reference- Yeah, I don’t get it either. I guess they bank on most people not actually looking this up or they think that God’s command to the Hebrew people to live separate from idolatrous nations around them somehow equates to racial segregation today. Race is a human construct that was not part of the ancient world and that is one, among many reasons, why this Scripture is horribly misapplied by the Klan.
Secondly, White and Christian are not synonymous terms, though I think perhaps the Klan thinks they are. Christianity was in Africa before it made its way to Europe. Most Europeans were idolatrous “barbarians”, much like the people Moses warned the Israelites to separate themselves from, before the gospel took root there. Christians are people who have embraced Jesus as Lord and Savior and actually live by his ways and do his will. By the way, believers were first called Christians in Antioch because their multi-ethnic congregation of Jews and Gentiles necessitated a new term. Thank you, Luke, for recording the leaders of this great church for us so that we will not get sucked into the lies of groups like this. “Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas (Jewish), Simeon called Niger (Sub-Saharan African), Lucius of Cyrene (Greek), Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul (Jew from Greek city).” Acts. 13:1. Italics are mine.
Lastly, Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month are not racist because they celebrate the culture and contributions of often over-looked groups. Ethnic specific events, media, and resources exist because many of us feel we are completely lacking from the general culture. If we want to make these things obsolete then let’s create school curriculums, movies, and events that truly represents all of us.
Here’s the bottom line, brothers and sisters. Everything that quotes Scripture and claims Jesus’ allegiance is not of God. Jesus taught us to judge a tree by its fruit. This is a good standard to apply to all of our lives.
The kingdom of God is made up of every nation, tribe, people, and language. THIS IS TRUTH. As Mark Deymaz says, “if the kingdom of heaven is not segregated, then why on earth is the local church?" It is time to deal with the reality of the racial injustice in our world through a Biblical lens. Like my brother put it, "This really angers me, but it angers me to want to do something about it through spreading the love of Christ even more, and how we are all one blood under Christ." Me too. Will you join us?
In my ministry work I have the opportunity to speak with city leaders, non-profit directors, and people from other faiths that are working on solving the issues of racial injustice in St. Louis. Many of these leaders have been fighting systemic racism for years and others are coming into the situation with a new energy and desire to help make change. Since I am new to the city my posture is always one of learning, building relationships, and offering assistance with the things that are happening before bringing forth my thoughts and ideas. I do this so that people understand that I care about the same thing that they care about and they know that I care about them.
In a recent meeting, I had the opportunity to share that the city and the rest of society will begin to heal racially when the church continues to heal racially and grows to be as diverse as the Bible tells us we should. I have shared this many times before and the response to this comment is usually the majority will simply distill the comment down to the idea that I’m a pastor that wants to make the church diverse and leave it at that, but there is always the one person who hears the whole statement and asks “So, do you believe that society is only going to change once the church changes?”
For most people this is a crazy assumption, especially for people who are not Christians. However, I have found that a fair number of Christians don’t fully believe this statement to be true. Non-Christians tend to believe in the foundational humanity of mankind. They believe that mankind is ultimately good and all we need to do is convince the majority of people to do the right thing and society will change. So the need for God to be apart of societal change is ridiculous for them. They are fine with us Christians using God or the Bible to convince our groups to do the right thing, but they reject the idea that God or the Church has any influence over the rest of the world. The Christians who do not believe that the church will lead this change in the world do so because they can’t imagine a diverse church in the first place. They usually believe that a diverse church is a good idea, but because of our sin nature and cultural preferences it is something unachievable. Therefore, the church can’t lead society in this way because we can’t do it ourselves. Perhaps you may even fall into this way of thinking.
My answer to the question posed is an emphatic “Yes, I believe the world will only change once the Church does!” My reasoning is very simple: I do not believe in the intrinsic humanity of man. I believe that we are all driven by our flesh to protect and provide for ourselves and the people who we care about, even at the expense of others. My belief is not only rooted in scripture, but all of history has provided the data to prove that humans left to our own vices are self centered at best and a powerful destructive force at worst. We only need to read a history book or look at the world today to verify this fact. Next, God is the only solution for our personal and societal ills for which racism is one. This answer is only partially satisfying for non-Christians because they will then ask why is the church the solution? Why not another religion or all religions working together? I love it when we get to this question because that means they have progressed to the idea that God is the solution.
If we can entertain the idea that God is the solution then we need only to look at the Bible to see that our God has always been about reconciliation and bringing people together while others have focused on self improvement or individual actions pleasing God. While Jesus is clear that our calling is to love God and to love one another, reconciliation to God and reconciliation to one another is the unifying threat throughout all of scripture. The Bible is full of scripture talking about believers being reconciled to each other, whether it’s John 17:20-23, Rev. 7:9, or Gal. 3:28, to name a few. So the Bible lived out in the church is the only spiritual voice of reconciliation there is or has ever been.
The reconciliation in the Bible extends to any separation in the church and therefore applies to the racial divide in the church of America. We can see that the church is supposed to be a diverse body reconciled to one another worshiping in communities on Earth as it is in Heaven. From a practical point of view we can see how this will change the way people in the church live their lives at work, school, and home. When their closest friends are people of different races they will respond to societal racism differently and that will begin to change the American culture. Most importantly, when we, the Church, are truly reconciled to each other across racial lines we will not be divided by politics or social agendas and the world will see love that has not been seen since the first century church. That will move the world to turn toward Jesus and their hearts will be changed. That will be the end of systemic racism in America.
I have no doubt that the church is the solution to the race problem in America. Once the Church embraces this understanding we will see the Church leading change in the area of racial equality along with other biblical justice issues.
Brandon Wilkes is a contributing author and the Pastor at One Church in St. Louis, Missouri.
The photo above is exactly how I felt on social media yesterday. It happens every once in a while, not just to me but to many of my friends. We'll be sharing a different opinion/perspective on an issue and be met with serious hostility, usually from a Christian brother or sister. Because of a view I shared on disparities and double standards in perceptions of African-Americans vs. Caucasians. I was shamed and told that I was an affront to the Gospel and not a Christian leader.
This really shocked me. 1) I was just posing a question/alternative thought for discussion, 2) I welcomed all opinions (we are not a monolith) and 3) this issue definitely had nothing to do
With my love for Jesus or leadership in the Church. To the contrary, these types of discussions are meant to expose the subtleties of the SIN of racism and classism; to bring light to a very dark area in our underbelly and move us to a greater sensitivity and one day hopefully unity. I stated that despite our differing opinions, I would never suggest that disagreement would be tantamount to another person not being saved or a leader. It was not my intent to start or be involved in a quarrel. A QUARREL is an angry argument or disagreement, typically between people who are usually on good terms. So I took the post down.
Paul said that quarreling was something that Believers should avoid. God's servants had to learn to disagree agreeably, and have patience with the process of change in people's lives. I'm wondering how some of their disagreements about Gentiles being engrafted into salvation with the Jews might have gone...
Again I say,don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants. (2 Timothy 2:23-26)
I pray that the Lord will bring us to a maturity that enables us to have hard discussions without judgment and shaming that will not engender strife, but bring about UNITY in the Body of Christ, and that we won't quit along the way...
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Original post: http://gracenotesbysadell.blogspot.com/2016/02/wednesdays-word-quarrel-sadell-bradley.html