Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. Most of America should never have known these names. Given the chance, they most likely would’ve lived lives of relative obscurity beyond their circles of friends and family. Instead, these names have been all over the news in the last weeks as we’ve learned the horrific details of their deaths. There are so many names of black men, women and children that I never should have known. This happens all too often. Once again, we’re reminded that we have some very real, hard, deep-rooted problems in our country. A lot of people are extremely hurt and confused. A lot of people are feeling hated and hateful. The racial issues in America these days are nothing new, but if you’re anything like me, they still leave you feeling a little lost and helpless. I see hatred and violence where I want to be seeing love and peace. I get overwhelmed with the hugeness of the issues and feel like there’s nothing I can do. How can I stop systemic racism? How can I keep people from being shot in the streets or in their own homes? How can I make sure we never see another video of a man being choked to death? How can I reform the justice system? Well, all by myself, I probably can’t. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. I can educate myself, have conversations, and stand up for reconciliation and justice in my circles of influence. If you feel at all like me, here are some things I’ve been trying to do that you may want to try as well, and maybe together we can help make changes. (Disclaimer: I’m a white woman, so all of these things are coming from the perspective of a white person trying to educate myself about issues that African Americans deal with daily. But I hope a lot of this can be helpful no matter what race or gender you are.)

  1. EDUCATE – If you know me, you know I love to learn, so it’s no surprise that this is my first step. I think it’s very important to always approach any issue with humility, knowing that you don’t know everything and seeking to learn from people who have more experience than you do. So I really believe that we should all read, listen, read, watch, and read all kinds of things on these topics. And don’t just choose people you know you’ll agree with. It won’t hurt you to read an author with a vastly different outlook on life. You don’t have to agree with everything someone says to still gain some understanding from them. As you learn, filter everything through the lens of the gospel and Scripture before you accept it as truth. Don’t compare it to your preconceived notions or your political platform or the viewpoints of your own culture – compare it to the only standard for truth and then accept it as far as it agrees with the Word. I’ve been reading, listening, and watching things A LOT over the past few years to try to educate myself and I am more than happy to share personal recommendations with anyone who would like an idea on where to start! Please don’t hesitate to email me at KristinH@christchapelbc.org and I’ll share my favorites.
  2. EXAMINE – Whether we want to admit it or not, whether we’re even aware of it or not, we all have biases and prejudices. Be intentional and make time to get really introspective and honest with yourself. Pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal to you where you have prejudices. Process through those things and try to think about why you have them. How has your culture influenced you in these areas? How have you forgotten the gospel in your relationships with other people? As the Lord opens your eyes to these things, REPENT. Prejudice and racism are SINS and it’s not okay to allow ourselves to maintain them. Ask the Lord for forgiveness and, where it’s appropriate and you’re able to, apologize and ask forgiveness from any specific people your prejudice has hurt.
  3. ENTREAT – This goes along with point #2. Beg the Lord for the ability to see ALL people with His eyes. All humans are made in the image of God. Every single one of them. Not just the ones that look like you or act like you. All humans. If you’ve already gone through step 2 above, you’ve already been confronted with some ways in which you haven’t believed that and you’ve asked forgiveness. Now continue the process by asking the Lord to help you be different in the future. A few years ago I was on my way home from California and reading The New Jim Crow on a layover, so these issues were on the forefront of my mind. I put my book down for a bit and tried to practice some of these things. I started looking around at all the diverse people at my gate. I forced myself to notice the instinctive thoughts and opinions I had about each person as I looked at them. I asked myself why I thought that way. I tried to examine any prejudices that came up and beg the Lord to rid me of them. I prayed for each person with the eyes of the Lord, seeing them as His children made in His image first, asking Him to bless them and reveal Himself to any of them who didn’t know Him already. Next time you’re in a public place with a few quiet moments, maybe try to do something similar. Don’t be afraid to confront hidden sin in your heart in this area! We have a faithful and loving God who wants to point these things out to you and remind you that He’s already covered this sin in your heart with the blood of Jesus. He wants to help you change and grow to be more like His Son.
  4. ENRICH – If all of your friends look and act and think exactly like you, you’re wrong. That’s it. There are all kinds of excuses, but none of them justify being so secluded and insulated. The body of Christ is a worldwide, beautiful, diverse thing. Believers from every tribe, tongue, and nation will be worshipping our Savior in heaven together. We will be spending eternity with people who don’t look like us, so start spending time with different people now! It may take some effort on your part, but it will be worth it.
  5. ENUNCIATE – If you’re working through each of these steps, hopefully you’ve been learning some new things, repenting of sin and building new relationships. You need to take all of this to another level and SPEAK UP. I know some people don’t like to “get political” and therefore avoid speaking out about difficult topics. But I am thoroughly convinced that silence is political. If you don’t speak up explicitly about your thoughts on hard topics like this, you allow people to interpret your silence in whatever way best fits their agenda. They might think, “She’s not speaking about this topic because she doesn’t think it matters. I don’t need to think it matters either.” They might think, “He doesn’t speak about this topic because it would make him unpopular to say what he thinks, but I know he must agree with me.” Maybe someone will think, “Well, I know he heard me state my opinion, and he didn’t contradict me, so he must agree with me and approve of what I said.” The only way for people to truly know what you believe is for you to tell them what you believe. Speak up and speak the truth. And make sure you enunciate clearly, leaving no room for those who hate others to think you’re on their side.
  6. ENTRUST – Even after all of this, we can’t fix things on our own. Since racism and hatred are sins, we know that they’ll be with us until the end. But we also know that in the end, all sin will be finally dealt with, praise the Lord! We also know that we can still work for and champion the cause of justice here and now. We can do our part to love and serve all humans in the name of Jesus and entrust the results to Him. And while you’re speaking out and sharing the gospel, you may (probably will) experience some backlash. You may suffer some hatred yourself. But Scripture is full of promises that believers will suffer and that God will be here for us when we do. Rest in the promise of 1 Peter 4:19, which says, “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” Keep doing good. Entrust your faithful Creator with the rest.

This is a lot. But the fight for justice and love and against racism and hatred is 100 percent worth it. And all of those concerns I expressed in the first paragraph — the helplessness, the “how can I stop this?” feelings — have actually been helped as I’ve gone through this process. I’ve been reminded that maybe I alone can’t stop systemic racism but WE can. Believers who confront and repent of the sin in their own heart, who educate themselves, who are united in the truth of the gospel and the love of Christ, absolutely CAN make a change. Let’s get to work, friends, and let’s do it together.

 

Kristin Hines
Associate Minister to Women

 

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