“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”Colossians 3:16 (ESV)
I admit it. My heart has been heavy the last several weeks.
Our country is embattled in a cultural civil war. And, though we are spared the images of battlefields covered with bodies and blood, it would be wrong to assume there are no casualties. The ugliness of war is all around us. Social shaming and verbal bludgeoning are rampant. People are being labeled, marginalized, dismissed, defamed, ridiculed, and intimidated – oftentimes by people they love. If we could see beyond the facades, we would see broken hearts in nearly everyone we encounter.
The weight of all this evil prompted me to seek answers. I listened to and read opinions from a variety of perspectives. I considered what actions I could and should take. But instead of finding the answers I sought, I found myself paralyzed, confused, and overwhelmed. And then I remembered: God is not the author of confusion.
“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”I Corinthians 14:33 (ESV)
While cogent arguments are made by good and well-meaning people on all sides of the racism issue, I decided it was time to prioritize which voices will be allowed to speak into my life.
- The first voice I am listening to is God’s. He speaks to us through His Word, and it is more important than ever to immerse ourselves in Scripture. Biblically literate people are better equipped to filter all the information generated by the world and intended to persuade us to preferred way of thinking and action.
- The second voice I am listening to is my own. Believing all people are created in God’s image and for His glory, it is critical that my words and actions are faithful to God’s purpose for my life. If what I say is misaligned with that calling, I am unable to speak truth to those who need to hear it.
- The other voices I am listening to are race relations experts who are also followers of Jesus. It is important to me that the wisdom being shared is Holy Spirit led and biblically sound. Ultimately, racism will be eradicated when hearts are changed by Jesus Christ. If this truth is not core and central to the teaching of the individual offering it, it is not a lasting solution.
If overwhelm and confusion have also infiltrated your spiritual well-being, let me share a couple of resources that might help.
In my search for Holy Spirit led wisdom, I found David A. Anderson. He wrote Gracism: The Art of Inclusion. The back of the book includes this summary:
“When people deal with color, class or culture in a negative way, that’s racism. But we can’t ignore these as if they don’t matter. Instead, we can look at color, class and culture in a positive way. That’s gracism.
Pastor David Anderson responds to prejudice and injustice with the principle of gracism: radical inclusion for the marginalized and excluded. A Christian alternative to securlar models of affirmative action or colorblindness, gracism is an opportunity to extend God’s grace to people of all backgrounds.”
The book just arrived a couple of days ago and I am eager to read it.
Another person I discovered is Pastor Miles McPherson. Miles McPherson is a pastor, former defensive back for the San Diego Chargers, and the author of The Third Option: Hope for a Racially Divided Nation. The premise of the book is this:
“The lure of choosing one option over another threatens God’s plan for unity among His people. Instead of going along with the culture, Pastor Miles directs us to choose the Third Option: honoring the priceless value of God’s image in every person we meet. The Third Option challenges us to fully embrace God’s creativity and beauty, as expressed in the diversity of His people. By following the steps and praying the prayers outlined in his book, Pastor Miles teaches us how we can all become leaders in unifying our communities, our churches, and the nation.”
There are a lot of YouTube videos of him speaking in his church and for other groups. I highly recommend listening to him. Here is a link to one I think you would find encouraging and provocative.
The world is asking us to choose sides. You hear the binary choices in the rhetoric:
- Either “Black Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter”
- Either “Police are Good” or “Police are Bad”
- Either “Liberal” or “Conservative”
- Either “Racist” or “Activist”
I reject thinking that forces either/or choices. Few things are that simple, particularly when God is excluded from the choices. Certainly, the God who created the universe has infinite perspectives and solutions to our dilemma!
My instinct is to prove to the world that I am as outraged, burdened, saddened, etc. as the next person. My decision is to resist instincts that seek approval of humankind in favor of those actions that honor God. Jesus is the ultimate unifier, and anything that detracts from that simple message is counterproductive, and not nearly as fulfilling as doing what Paul suggested to the church in Colossae.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”Colossians 3:16
Just reading those beautiful words generates a sigh of relief in me. I hope it does in you too. My prayer is that we as the worldwide Church will teach one another in all wisdom led by the Holy Spirit. We need to encourage each other and show the world a better path to unity.