Thursday, August 21, 2014

I'm ashamed.

My newsfeed and yours is filling up with video clips of friends and celebrities dumping buckets of cold water on themselves (a clever way to do a limitless fundraiser!) and image tributes to a man who made us laugh over the years. Its all well-meant yet I can't help but feel like we are all avoiding something even more important.

Ferguson. Not the facts of the incident, but the heart-hurt of our brothers and sisters brought to the surface by it. I have this dream of doing life and ministry with a multi-ethnic group of believers. It should be normal, natural, expected, that our lives and families and communities would be a wild and wonderful mix of cultures and skin-tones, in the Body of Christ yes, but especially in the beautiful melting-pot that is America. Why isn't it? How do we get to that point? I read a wonderful article today written by a black brother and in it he provided an excellent start to the answer to those questions. These pieces of his writing especially struck a chord with me:

"Over the years I’ve been challenged by my white brothers and sisters to just get over this. Their refusal to attempt to see things from my ethnically different perspective is a subtle, stinging form of racism. What’s more is that it hinders true Christian unity and fellowship within the beloved body of Christ.

I will never know what it’s like to be a woman, but I do know that when my wife comes at me with level four (feelings), and I stay in lawyer-land at level two, this never is a recipe for intimacy. I am not denying facts, but I’ve had to learn the hard way that if I am to experience oneness with my bride, I must drop down to level four in an attempt to understand, before I resurface to level two.

If you sense exasperation from we African-American’s over yet another news story of a black man slain at the hands of a white man, this is a wonderful opportunity to grab some coffee and seek to understand our hearts. I need my white brothers to know how I felt as I sat in the preaching classes in Bible college and seminary not once hearing examples of great African-American preachers. I need you to know how I felt when I was forced face down on the hard asphalt of Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles, 1993 all because I was nineteen and driving my pastor’s Lexus, a year after the Rodney King riots. I need you to ask how I felt when I walked into a Target recently behind a white woman who took one look at me and pulled her purse tightly.

My gospel hermeneutic does not allow for a heartless apathy that shakes its head and says “white people.” I can never give up on my white brothers and sisters because God in Christ has never given up on me.

We followers of the Way have been afforded a wonderful opportunity to use the death of Michael Brown and the confusion surrounding Ferguson to show to the world love—true love. Love for the people there in Ferguson, and also love for each other. 

...a love that sits down over a hot cup of coffee and seeks to understand."
[emphasis added // to read the full article click here]

My eyes are opening to just how many subtle ways the white race is modeled as superior in this Land of the Free -- from the leads in almost every movie, made in this country brim-full of cultural diversity, being played by whites, or history books full of the history specifically of white people who made big strides in this country, or just the continued social norm of distrust shown to members of another race. White superiority. There's even the side of the coin where very well-meaning whites make every effort to fold members of another race into their community and families, or where they simply delight in being a good neighbor,  or choose to serve as a kind of "good samaritan" to underprivileged or lower-class individuals. But even there it's white superiority because, unless heart-motives are truly pure, it's a "white savior" mentality that drives this service. And I am ashamed of it.

I'm familiar with superiority in another sense, separate from race divisions, and its just as ugly. It's plain old pride, justified. For someone who is well-acquainted with pride its nice to think that I can be entitled to at least a little bit of it. That something I am or have done is deserving of esteem and favor is a cheery thought. But then I see it >> pride (n.): 1. a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired. It makes you squirmy, doesn't it? Then this truth rings out and sends hope vibrating all the way through me: Clothe (apron) yourselves, all of you, with humility [as the garb of a servant, so that its covering cannot possibly be stripped from you, with freedom from pride and arrogance] toward one another. For God sets Himself against the proud (the insolent, the overbearing, the disdainful, the presumptuous, the boastful)—[and He opposes, frustrates, and defeats them], but gives grace (favor, blessing) to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you, casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. // 1 Peter 5:5b-7 AMP

I've been in Him long enough to know that whatever remains of my self-made righteousness just needs to go. Letting Jesus open my eyes to and clean house of current heart-issues and parts of me that still need to see Who He is and be conformed to that image instead, is part of this life. Messy, sure, but just like the messiness of other relationships, and growth in general, WORTH IT. At the end of the day the fruit of our life sells us out, painting a clear picture of where we are at. And that's good. When we know Who we are made to look like and we see stark differences between ourselves and Him then we know where we can change and grow. We are made to love our neighbors -- love them AS ourselves. Love isn't proud. It actually thinks more highly of others than of self. If that isn't an accurate, not just in theory but in fact, description of your life and mine, we have some growing to do. "The Good News of Jesus comes for both the ones who are drunk on their love for themselves and also those drowning in their own shame." //

So I understand why we prefer to watch people get soaked with ice-water rather than be faced with our heart-issues, but for the sake of our dear brothers and sisters could we brave it, please? Let's get this plank out of our own eye so we can see clearly and consequently love one another better.

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