Over the past three years or so there has been a tug of war happening in my spirit. My spirit really wanted to weekly be at the wonderful Spirit filled church that I was visiting on occasion but my carnal reasoning told me I couldn’t. I could not possibly leave the church where my husband works and abandon him there or abandon any of the other nice folk that I had done church with for the past nine and a half years. Loyalty to others trumped loyalty to the leading of the Spirit for a while until finally I mustered the courage to ask and until finally I allowed truth to win. With the blessing of my husband and my pastor I made the transition to a church just across the US border into Michigan. People of LSA, I love you all! Please don’t take it personally. I must follow closer.
Which leads me to this…… a lot has happened in America over the last two weeks; two black men shot and killed by police officers, 5 police officers killed and 7 injured in Dallas as well as more officers killed in Baton Rouge and the Lord isn’t allowing me to sit in my quiet little white town just across the pond from Detroit, ignoring it; pretending like it doesn’t affect me or involve me; because it does. These dear ones on the other side of the river are my neighbours; my friends and my brothers and sisters in Christ. These are the ones that I am called to stand with, alongside, to care for and to intercede for. Your neighbour is not just the one living on your street or in your community, it is the one whom God brings you to; the one in front of you in any given moment.
So, many people that I care about and am now connected with are in deep pain because band aids over wounds caused by racial discrimination have been violently ripped off. As they have watched the news and seen their brothers suffer injustice as well as perpetrate it, wounds become open and bleeding once again and fear bubbles up making silent threats against them.
I had the privilege of hearing a few of my African American brothers and sisters at church share their hearts but as I write this, I’m uncomfortably aware that I don’t know one iota of how they really feel and I could just be rambling nonsense, writing something that I think sounds good but doesn’t really communicate the depths of anyone’s experience. I really don’t want to do that! But I must try. I must connect with the pain and the needs of my brothers and sisters.
You see I’m a foreigner there. I’m a Canadian in an American church and a very culturally diverse church at that; and I’m white and Christ is expanding my worldview and stretching my heart to be one with those whom at first thought, I don’t feel like I have much in common with; but actually do. The truth is, we all have hearts that cry out for the same thing; love and acceptance and Christ is the only One that can meet those needs righteously and fully. We all have Christ in common. We all have the desire to love Him and to be like Him, hence we are all called to be unified; black, white, Canadian, American, African; to be one, across national boundaries and ethnic boundaries. We are called to rejoice with all of our brothers and sisters who rejoice and to mourn with all those who mourn. So I cry out, “Lord, show me their hearts! Help me to identify with their pain! Make us one, just as you are One”
I am also painfully aware that I am representative of those who have seemingly perpetrated injustice towards the black community, whether it be intentional or un-intentional. For the record, I would just like to say that I reject and condemn every kind of racism. May it never be found in my heart! However, it is with great sadness that I confess that it has been and still is in my family. All I have to do is spend an hour with my seventy year old uncle to know it. At this I am deeply grieved and I am truly sorry. It is in-excusable and intolerable. On behalf of my family, I am sorry. I pray and hope beyond all hope that it isn’t something that unknowingly just leaks out of me and I beg God to just rip that thing out of me, if it is.
Right now, I can only control what I am aware of in myself and with the help of my husband lead our children to live and speak in a way that is honoring to everyone, regardless of their race or skin color. I think we have accomplished that; but if I have ever said or done anything that has communicated discrimination to anyone, I am truly sorry. And can I just stand in the gap as a representative of the white population and just say I’m sorry; I’m sorry that you’ve been marginalized by us and by society. You dear one, have been fearfully and wonderfully made by our Creator God and you are “Beloved”; worthy of love and completely loved by Him. I am sorry that we have not re-presented the Father in this and have not loved you well.
How can I do this better? People of God, how can we do this better? How can we love each other well, without blaming, pointing fingers, without anger but with forgiveness in our hearts? I believe we can do this better by following Jesus, closer. It’s not enough that we follow so close that we can hear His voice and see what He does; all we need to be is within ear shot in this case. It’s not close enough. On the contrary, we must follow so close to Jesus that we see into His heart and we know His heart. We must know His heart and we must have His heart. We must love what He loves and we must hate what He hates.
We must follow so close to our Savior that we are found in Him; not around Him, or behind Him but in Him. We must have our habitation in Him. We must abide in Him continually as it’s in Him, where we find healing for our hearts as well as everything we need for life and Godliness. Only in Him we find the humility that we need to admit our weaknesses, to love well and to walk in His grace. We simply cannot do it without Him. We are too broken. We need Him to overcome on our behalf and we need His peace.
I pray that in the midst of the chaos, that we as Christ followers can love each other well first and then as a united front, GO into our cities and into the world and be like Jesus, giving of ourselves and radically loving others even in the face of hatred and injustice. This is the true test isn’t it? If we claim to be followers of Jesus, our lives should look like it. The things we do and say should communicate love to those who love us back but more importantly, those who don’t; even those who would consider us enemies.
It’s time to be intentional. It’s time to be relentless at seeking opportunities to be light in our communities. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt.5:16). So let’s be light together. Let’s join all of our lights together and become that city on a hill that cannot be hidden. Let’s shine bright and watch the darkness flee. Let’s shine together so bright that people in the streets cry out, “Glory to God! Glory to God!”
Haha! Wouldn’t that be somethin! People of every race, nationality and religious affiliation shouting in the streets, “Glory to God!” Now that stirs up a belly laugh within me!
It’s absolutely brilliant! C’mon, let’s do it!