The Church has a profound responsibility in stamping out racism within The Church and standing for social justice outside the four walls of the church building. Many of us are so passionate about the issue of racism, and I want to talk about some first steps leading us toward action.
Looking Inward & Asking The Hard Questions
The place to start is taking an honest look inward at your own heart. Self-inventory is difficult because many of us believe we have no racial biases in our hearts, but in really diving deep and allowing the Spirit to guide the process, many may find some places that need work. So ask the Holy Spirit to take you on that journey of transforming the mind and repenting for anything deep down that would cause you to look down on another person due to race, culture, and ethnicity.
Where We’ve Gone Wrong: Passive/Apathetic Listening
Many people in ministries and churches have merely passively listened to our BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color) brothers and sisters in Christ as they’ve tried to tell the narrative of their lives; therefore, the response has been apathy. For many white individuals, the issue of racism and the road toward healing and restitution is too overwhelming (or systemic) to deal with and creates so much discomfort that it is easier to live with heads in the sand. That apathy, or inability to picture oneself in another’s shoes, creates a disparity between racial lines, which is one of the foundational elements of what is called “white supremacy.” The Church must do better, and I believe that we want to do better.
Active/Empathetic Listening and Hearing
We must begin dealing with racism inside and outside of The Church by actively and empathetically listening. It is important to note here that it is NOT the responsibility of BIPOC individuals to educate you on the long history of racism in the United States and abroad. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves, and there are plenty of resources out there to help.
One of the things I have personally learned by actively listening to BIPOC friends and leaders of racial equality movements is that expecting your African American friends to re-live their own traumas by telling you their stories of atrocities they’ve experienced is just not fair. Again, there are plenty of resources out there for you to consume that will give you insight into this.
Active listening requires us to take the time to listen intently to the BIPOC voices who are sharing their stories, ideas, and strategies. Active listening requires silence and the ability to listen and truly hear with an open heart and mind. It requires us to put ourselves in the shoes of those around us who have encountered these racist atrocities and to press into the fear, anger, and hopelessness that these precious souls have faced. It requires that we look at each individual as perfectly created in the image of God. An individual’s color is not a flaw but a gift from God to reveal the Kingdom of God.
Just Like Jesus
The Church is to be a beacon of hope and light just like Jesus, love all people just like Jesus, and be the hands and feet of Jesus. We cannot afford to allow racist attitudes and behaviors to go on for another 400 years. The time to act is now.