Take off the old human nature with its practices and put on the new nature, which is renewed in knowledge by conforming to the image of the one who created it. In this image there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all things and in all people. Colossians 3:9-11
Often, in blogging, I avoid speaking directly to cultural and political circumstances that can be considered “hot topic” or “controversial”. Yet in reading a recent blog post by author Rachel Held Evans, I’m reminded that Christian writers have a responsibility to speak in times of cultural trial. Too often, the voice of “Christians” that echoes the loudest across media outlets is one of hate, judgment, bigotry and oppression. Is it any wonder that more and more Americans are leaving behind the label of “Christian”?
And what is a Christian, anyway? At its core, a Christian is someone who is a self-professed sinner. A Christian is someone who knows they are in need of redemption. For Christians, that redemption comes through God in the form of Jesus Christ. Once salvation has been accepted, once grace has been received, a Christian seeks to live a life following the example of Jesus Christ.
Following the example of Jesus Christ means practicing humility, not arrogance. Following the example of Jesus Christ means reaching out in love to others, not standing in judgment and hate. Following the example of Jesus Christ means standing up for justice, not participating and accepting systems of injustice and oppression.
For white Christians (like myself) following the example of Jesus Christ means acknowledging our blatantly racist past and accepting that we have built systems of inequality and prejudice that exist today. Following the example of Jesus Christ means that we (white Christians) must stop protecting institutions that promote racial injustice. We need to acknowledge the fact that our law enforcement systems are racially biased. We need to stand in solidarity with our African-American brothers and sisters in demanding that those systems change. We need to accept that the lens by which we view the world is skewed by prejudices handed down over generations. We need to remember that in Christ, we are all one body.
As I watch demonstrations for racial justice erupt across the nation, I am hopeful that maybe change will finally come. It will take time. It will be painful. It will require humility, compassion, and a careful re-evaluation of our own beliefs, values, and motivations. However, I think it’s good.
For my part, I will continue to speak out on behalf of those fighting for justice. I will continue to work to evaluate my own motivations and perceptions when it comes to issues of racial justice. I will admit that I am a Christian–a sinner in need of redemption and grace.
Blessings and Peace,