Overcoming Racism: The Pursuit of Reconciliation

Like most others, I am saddened by the violent loss of human life. Whether it is the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile or the deaths of the five police officers, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa, there are now seven different families that are grieving the loss of someone they loved. As a follower of Jesus and a minister of the gospel, I am grieved because I don’t like seeing and hearing of others suffering. I am also  frustrated because I believe the church of Jesus Christ in America should be an example of reconciliation but isn’t. But as a Christian, as a follower of Jesus, I believe we must!

On television and social-media, the vitriol and anger is so palpable that it can be cut with a knife. Some want to point fingers, but don’t! Blaming others for flaming the current racial divide only stokes the fire more. The truth is that racism and inequality has always been a problem in America but those who have suffered as a result of such hatred, particularly blacks, are tired and are crying out to those of us with ears to hear and eyes to see. Some seem to think that violence will help but it won’t. It never has and never will. In fact, violence only begets violence which only begets more anger and hatred which only begets more violence which only… you get my point.

But there is an alternative to blaming others and killing one another, an alternative that seeks true peace and reconciliation. As a praxis, peace and reconciliation begin with a conversation that’s possible because Jesus has died on the cross, exposing the darkness and rendering it powerless (cf. Col 2:15). On the cross, Jesus extends true love and forgiveness. In turn, we are free to love each other with enough humility to hear the pain of the other, repent as necessary (whether it’s injustice or just indifference and apathy), forgive each other, learn to speak truthfully with each other and serve with each other for the sake of justice.

What we need is a conversation where we come around the table with enough humility to listen with empathy to others, especially to people of different skin colors. Overcoming racial and social differences requires that we engage others, listening with empathy for the struggles of the other. Love demands that we engage others, listening with empathy to their struggles of being hated and discriminated against. The pursuit of reconciliation demands that we are willing to repent where necessary, forgive one another, and stand with the oppressed in their desire for justice.

The place for such conversations should be our churches and that means becoming intentional about creating and cultivating space for such conversations. Our pursuit of reconciliation is the outworking of the gospel we profess and our currency that gives visible substance to our gospel, so that our proclamation of the gospel is a living tradition rather than dead traditionalism. But for far too long churches have been on the wrong side of the fence either because we were engaged in unjust practices of racism or because our we remained indifferent, pursuing other issues we deemed more important. This has to change! If we believe that it is the gospel of Jesus Christ and not Democrat or Republican politics that offers true peace and reconciliation then it must change and that change must be us. So let’s open space for others of different color at the table, just as Jesus has done for us, that we may pursue reconciliation with them.

7 responses to “Overcoming Racism: The Pursuit of Reconciliation

  1. In the prison camp my black cellie told me I,was the best liked inmate in the camp. I wasn’t trying to overcome racism, just there to repent of my sins. In the prison camp there were lively discussions that some blacks felt it was better to live in white neighborhoods to get away from the crime in the black neighborhoods. Racism against their own race? An east African brought perspective to me by saying, yes, there was slavery in white America but also in Muslim Arab world but you could find the children of slaves in white America but not in Muslim Middle East. The slaves were all killed or castrated. A Nigerian black said to me that he left Africa because blacks ruling blacks was so destructive.
    Christian faith has made a difference, and I suggest that if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then the political symptoms of real or per river racism, th he lack of love of the dominant culture and the consciousness of minority cultures will be attenuated.

  2. A problem still exists of too many white Christians telling black citizens, “We know what’s best for you. We know that you were happier in the ‘good ol’ days’ before government stepped in and upset everyone”. Of course, African Americans know that this reasoning is ridiculous and its conclusions simply wrong.

    Also, white Christians are still not able to wrap their minds around the fact that black Christians can be theological conservatives and political progressives, causing many blacks to prefer their own congregations rather than put themselves under pressure from whites to “think correctly”.

    Listening with respect is the key.

  3. It doesn’t appear that police officers shooting black people is due to racism. After investigation, in nearly every case, it was because these folks had broken the law and were resisting the police to the point that they posed a serious threat. The narrative that some are pushing that this is a race problem only increases the racism among blacks. It seems that more and more do not respect non-black people, especially those who are white. I have seen this time and time again. The problem with too many people is their ears are closed and they do not want to hear the truth. They cling to the belief that racism exists, and it is whites against blacks. However, the majority of the racism that I have been seeing is blacks against white. Several of my black friends have told me the same thing. They were raised to distrust and disrespect whites as being inherently dishonest, dishonorable, untrustworthy, etc. In the public school, I can’t tell you how many times young black men and women disrespected white teachers. I am Asian, so I do not identify as either white or black.

    • Thanks for your comment. I would suggest differentiating between racism and discrimination. There are people among every race/ethnicity who discriminate for one reason or another and that is a sad problem. Racism, as I speak of, may involve discrimination but it is a systematic issue. The shooting of blacks by police officers is not the extent of systematic racism but is only the impetus which is making more Americans aware of the continued problem of systematic racism within this nation. For example, when there is a history of excessive force by police against Blacks (which is well documented) then it creates a distrust between law enforcement and the Black communities which only results in more systemic problems. This is the sort of racism that has been ignored by Whites (which is our White privilege because we’re not the ones suffering the consequences of racism) but must be dealt with if there is to be reconciliation.

  4. Of course, black people are always respectful and don’t require more force do they? They want to blame it on race, when often it is the result of their own actions and behavior. By the way, when white people act the same way, they get treated with greater forces as well. It is not ignored by whites, it just isn’t what you say it is. I have seen and heard too many black people plug their ears when you expose their rhetoric to truth. If you say it long enough, loud enough, jump to conclusions and paint a narrative without having all the facts, post a misleading video, etc., By the way, whites are not suffering? Have you not heard of the number of whites that are now being brutalized, beaten up, put in the hospital, shot, by gangs of black people now? It has been happening for the last several years in many cities, but the mainstream media rarely reports on it because they seem to believe that only white people can be racist (which is why people use the ridiculous phrase, “reverse racism”). White people are being hurt all the time by blacks these days, but there is not the public outcry, and white people aren’t rioting over it, nor are they doing anything that even remotely comes close to what black people are doing. In the cases I know about, they only reason these white people were targets was because they are white. Yet, people like you seem to think that thugs who get roughed up by a cop because they resisted and fought with a cop is because of race, not because of their behavior.

    • Of course, you can ignore the voices crying out and even divert attention from their cries by shouting and spouting back platitudes, but doing so only furthers the racial divide. Sad!

  5. From some of my research that someone pointed out to me was that Many of those riots or shootings are a hoax or staged. I thought to myself why would they do this and how without someone knowing. well, they are paid actors. go look up on YouTube Sandy hook hoax or Floridanight clubhouse. once you look at this with a discerning critical eye you will see it in other places. It is a movie setEven the FBI Will tell you there wasn’t a shooting. those are actors in uniform. Throughout it and the news media uses their footage to tell the Americans. Those that were at the night club didn’t live in the area verylong. If you look them up or the doctorate have no identificationbefore the shooting. This is a hoax to play on our gun control laws. They have an agenda. As for why don’t preachers preach the gospel anymore???? They cant. If they are a non profit organization that is tax exempt 501(c ) (3) then they must go by government standards to not speak on certain subjects . Those opposing the government and other controversial topics. There for you will never have a good sermon about what sins need to be brought out repentance. just love, love, love. Those hell, fire,and Bridgestone, repent days are long gone. In my opinion if you sign a pact with the government you signed over your real rights to preach the gospel. Just to not pay taxes. Great way to silencers church. .

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