Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Few Thoughtz: The Heart of Racial Justice, pt. 1

Peace and blessings,

Before I begin, I would like to preface this introduction by saying that I am more of a humanities and social sciences person than a hard sciences person, therefore I apologize if my description of this medical instrument does not do the instrument justice, lol.

When people are unable to take care of themselves, they often need something to assist them in initiating and facilitating internal bodily processes such as eating and blood flow. A major medical instrument that provides this assistance is an IV. A person who is seriously ill, for instance, may need to use an IV to pump blood in his or her body. Without this IV, his or her condition will get worse. Under more severe circumstances, the presence or absence of an IV can mean the difference between life and death.

Prior to starting my first semester at a major university, I knew that one of the most important things I needed to do was build upon my relationship with God. For me, that meant that I needed to find a church home. The first day of new student move –ins, I was greeted by a member of Black Campus Ministries (BCM), who invited me to bible study. While attending the bible studies, I found out that BCM was only one part of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF), a campus ministry organization that serves students of all ethnicities. For example, like BCM, there are ethnic-specific ministries for Chicano/Latino students, and Asian/Pacific Islander/Philippino students.

Despite being aware of and around this diversity, I primarily viewed BCM and Intervarsity as a ministry to help me in my individual, highly personal walk with God. After reading B. McNeil and R. Richardson’s “The Heart of Racial Justice: How Soul Change Leads to Social Change,” however, I realized that Intervarsity was about much more. In addition to providing me with spiritual resources to strengthen my personal walk with Christ, Intervarsity also provided opportunities and spiritual resources to acknowledge, appreciate, and strengthen my cultural and social walk with Jesus.

On a cultural level, Intervarsity is grounded in the belief that racial/ethnic unification and reconciliation are not just worthy goals to achieve in themselves: the call to achieve these goals is evident throughout the Old and New Testament. To illustrate the importance of these goals, McNeil and Richardson cite various scriptures, including God’s spreading out of cultures via different languages for the people of Babel and Paul’s emphasis on eliminating cultural barriers to show that Christ’s love extends to Gentiles as well as Jews, to name a few. On a social level, Intervarsity helped me realize that any form of injustice is a sin. Therefore for Christians, having a heart for and actively engaging in a relationship with Christ means doing the same for the oppressed and marginalized. Using Paul’s declaration in Ephesians 6:12 that the battle is not with people per se, but with (spiritual) powers and principalities as a framework, McNeil and Richardson urges us to denounce and oppose sins of racism and all forms of discrimination and oppression. Through Christ, we not only have the spiritual power to denounce and oppose these powers and principalities: we also have the victory over these things through our faith in and obedience to Christ.

So in a nutshell, McNeil and Richardson’s “The Heart of Racial Justice” has given me a newfound appreciation for the ministry Intervarsity provides to college students through their focus on personal, cultural, and social growth in Christ. What does this have to do with the example you gave in the opening paragraph? Here’s the connection: Just as an IV in the medical sense is used to preserve and save lives, my view of what it meant to be a Christian prior to getting involved with Intervarsity was limited thus was suffering. Like the physical lives of people who cannot do for themselves, my spiritual life was in need of an IV to “feed” me some different, more encompassing ways of viewing my relationship with Christ and His kingdom, and through the grace of God I was introduced to these new and diverse perspectives through Intervarsity, my spiritual IV.

What do you think? If you have been or are currently a part of Intervarsity, what have you learned since your involvement that you were unaware of prior? If you are not familiar with Intervarsity or have not been involved with the organization, any general thoughts/reactions to this piece? Take care and speekonit…

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