This week we took a break from our Recovery series to speak about the tragic events that have happened across our country this week. We spoke out of Roman’s 12:10-21. Here is a quick recap of the gathering:
So last week in America was terrible. After July 4th the nation saw another video of a black man’s death at the hands of police who were trying to detain him--Alton Sterling. This video was not the first of it’s kind--it came on the heels of many others that have happened in the past few years, along with some cases like Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin that weren’t videotaped but were widely publicized. Then, the very next day another officer-involved shooting happened in MN, a black man named Philando Castile.
The next day, at a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas, an ex-military black citizen ambushed the very police officers who were there to ensure that the protest happened peacefully and safely. This was an evil, despicable act of violence that injured 12 police officers and killed 5. Those officers left their families that morning and tragically never returned home.
Our goal today is for us all to walk out of here today more equipped to respond as Christians, with more understanding of the other side than we currently have. There is certainly some room for us to disagree on the particulars as Christians. What there isn’t room for is for us to have no interest in seeing why Christians of another race think differently then we do.
As Christians there seven ways we need to look at Racial Tension:
1. Acknowledge that racial tension exists
This is simple, but absolutely cannot be skipped. Racial differences and tension exists, and to deny that would be to deny history. You cannot tell the story of America without telling the story of how African Americans were oppressed to make America what it is. You can’t look at the story of our country and not conclude that to varying degrees over time black lives haven’t mattered quite as much as white lives. To do so would be whitewashing history. The differences are getting smaller over time to be sure, but to say they are nonexistent would be dishonest.
2. Know that other people have different life experiences than you
When you see a video of something like a questionable police shooting. Your background and experiences have a huge effect on what you actually see. It becomes clear that people are watching the same thing but coming to different conclusions.
3. Empathy is essential to bearing one another’s burdens
In heated issues both sides want to be understood. We should stop desensitizing feelings we have never felt. Stop criticizing shoes in which you have never walked. Invite someone over for dinner, and seek to understand why they feel the way they feel and empathize with them.
4. Realize that history and majority provide certain advantages
We are not talking about individual privilege; we’re talking about societal level. If you are a white American, your ancestors built the economic and political systems that drive our world today. In other words, the people who run stuff often look like you. Anywhere you go you will feel like you fit in. You will likely never feel out of place. Many of the people in power who make decisions about who gets hired and what happens in our society look like you and therefore may be unknowingly more in favor of you than someone who doesn’t look like you. There was a study done recently where identical resumes were sent out using white sounding names and black sounding names, and the white sounding names were more likely to get an interview. That’s an invisible privilege. This is not something you should feel individual guilt over but it’s really helpful to acknowledge it.
5. The gospel frees us to look with suspicion at our own biases
We all have biases that are based on our backgrounds our experiences and even the particular news stations we watch and what angle they give us on any particular event. The good news of the gospel for Christians is that we can be wrong. Our bias needs to take a backseat to reality in any given situation. We should seek to be as objective as possible.
6. Leave room for nuance
The gospel gives Christians the freedom to not feel like we have to win the culture war, therefore we don’t have to pick one of the extreme sides, ignore the weaknesses in the particular side and fight like a gladiator. We just don’t have to anymore. We can point out the wayward points in both sides and the good in both sides. Jesus is an equal opportunity offender in any debate because he stands above the shouting matches. Having nuance means in a particular situation, two people can be wrong at the same time, to varying degrees. A person can be at fault and systems can be flawed at the same time. We can agree that a sinful response to sin is still sin.
7. Our primary loyalty is Jesus and church family, not our natural “team”
In any polarizing debate, there is a lot of pressure both internally and externally to think the same way that others like you think. There is pressure for you to “rep your team”, to turn your head at any weaknesses and be loyal at all costs. This gets us nowhere, and the way of Jesus is starkly different because he says we as the church are united by something deeper than any other worldly thing that unites us. Our goal is that we will see other Christians of any race as our primary family and primary allegiance.
Fix My Eyes by Kings Kaleidoscope
Be Thou My Vision by 4Him
All My Hope by Hillsong