We run our website the way we wished the whole internet worked: we provide high quality original content with no ads. We are funded by your direct support for ReKnew and our vision. Please consider supporting this project.
Listen and Learn: A First Step Toward Reconciliation
Jesus Christ is not just the Lord, Savior and Messiah of the Jews: he is the Lord, Savior and Messiah of all people. Through Christ a kingdom is being established that tears down tribal walls between races and re-unites and reconciles people together in the love God.
Paul makes the point most forcefully. In Ephesians Paul writes that the Gentiles who were once outside the covenant of God “have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” He then continues,
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two [Jew and Gentile] one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility (Eph 2:14-16).
This is a breathtaking teaching! The most fundamental ethnic divide in the ancient world, at least from a Jewish perspective, was the divide between Jews and Gentiles. But by his work on the cross, Paul is saying, Jesus has destroyed the “dividing wall of hostility” between these two groups—and by extension, all other hostile groups. Not only has Jesus brought peace to all previously hostile groups; he himself is the peace between all groups. For through his death Jesus has created “one new humanity.”
A key step in manifesting the “one new humanity” is for those in power to humbly acknowledge that they don’t know what they don’t know. In other words, the only way that whites can understand the systemic racism in our culture is to listen and learn from those who experience it. The only way that people like me can possibly learn about the privilege I experience as opposed to the lack of privilege that people of color experience is to actually listen to them.
So, for example, rather than normalizing our own (privileged) experience and thus denying that racial profiling exists—accusing all who claim otherwise of “playing the race card”—we who are white must humbly listen to and trust the experience of nonwhites whose experience suggest that it does.
We who are white need to cultivate relationships with nonwhites that are deep enough to allow us to “get on the inside” of a nonwhite experience of the world. Not only this, but where it is appropriate, we who are white need to submit to the leadership of nonwhites. Individuals, small groups, and predominately white churches must pursue these submitted relationships if we’re to make headway in manifesting “the one new humanity.”
This is frankly quite challenging for many whites, even for those who sincerely believe they want to be agents of reconciliation. Our privileged status has conditioned us to assume our perspectives are normative and to expect to have things our way. Because America was established by and for whites, nonwhites have to deal with our culture, but we don’t usually have to deal with theirs. The decision to listen, learn, and follow people of color requires whites to place themselves in a submitted position they aren’t accustomed to. But if the systematic racism that has characterized the American church throughout its history is going to be subverted, this is the first step that must be taken.
—Adapted from The Myth of a Christian Religion, pages 113-121
Photo credit: runran via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA
Tags: Humility, Listening, Love, Racial Reconciliation
Topics: Ethical, Cultural and Political Issues
Hearing and Responding to God: Part 4
Are you inadvertently appealing to magic when you listen for God’s voice? Greg continues his series on hearing and responding to God by pointing out the difference between communion with God and Christian magic. You can view the previous videos here and here and here.
Love Conquers All
Paul prayed in this way for the church at Ephesus: I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, [God] may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in…
The Goal For Your Life in 2015
Love is the reason anything exists. God created the world out of love—to express his love and to invite others to share in his love. The central goal of creation is succinctly summed up in a profound prayer Jesus prayed just prior to his crucifixion: For [the disciples’] sake I sanctify myself, so that they…
The Gift of Smallness
ram reddy via Compfight Jonathan Martin wrote this piece entitled Feeling at home in my smallness a couple of weeks ago. If you’ve been feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders and it’s up to you to do something amazing or if you’ve been taking yourself a little too seriously, you…
On Mental Illness and Jumping from a Burning Building
seyed mostafa zamani via Compfight Ann Voskamp wrote this piece in the wake of the suicide of Rick Warren’s son. It’s disheartening to hear so many thoughtless and cruel comments by other Christians when tragedies like this strike. But here is a voice of knowing and compassion. Here is love. From Ann’s blog post: I…
On the Language of “Revolution”
Nick Thompson via Compfight Question: The banner of your website and the thrust of much of your teaching focuses on “revolution.” While I can see a radical call in some of the sayings of Jesus, especially if he were addressing upper-middle class North Americans, I wonder if attaching revolutionary language to his teaching seems a…