Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Few Thoughtz: The Heart of Racial Justice, pt. 2

Peace and blessings,

Let me first apologize for just now posting this. In this second part of my response to McNeil and Richardson’s “The Heart of Racial Justice: How Soul Change Leads to Social Change,” I want to highlight what I think are some of the book’s main points. As mentioned in the previous post, the book emphasizes the cultural, ethnic, and social nature of the bible, and our call as Christians to avoid perpetuating differences but work towards reconciling relationships between people and groups. To do this, they urge us to view any tool of injustice and division (e.g. institutional, economic, racial/ethnic, cultural) as a product or representative of sin itself. By identifying this sin, we will be in a better position to spiritually equip ourselves through prayer, forgiveness, scripture, and reconciliation to take claim of the victory over sin, which Christ solidified through his death and resurrection.

One of my favorite chapters of the book is chapter seven, where the authors discuss the role of receiving forgiveness for the sins we’ve committed against others (and thus God), and extending forgiveness to those who have sinned against us. The chapter discusses a time in Richardson’s (who is white) past when he and his brother were attacked by some African American youth. Realizing that the stereotypes he formed regarding African Americans based on this incident was and would continue to hinder his ministry, he decided to confront and eliminate the stereotype once and for all. During his prayer, he asked Jesus to enter into his memory and into that incident. Recalling the incident with Jesus being fully involved, he was able to see Jesus’ love and restorative power, as Jesus broke up the attack and spoke words of healing into the situation. This example spoke to me immensely because until reading this I never thought about inviting Jesus into my hurtful, past experiences that have shaped how I view people, the world, and ultimately myself.

The other chapter that I really enjoyed was chapter eight, which shifts the focus on the human problem to the sin problem. It’s not the person or group per se that is the source of conflict, strife, and injustice, but the spiritual forces influencing them. The chapter is best summarized by the following quote:

“How can one close one’s eyes at the fact that the demons themselves have taken over rule of the world, that it is the powers of darkness who have here made an awful conspiracy?”

- Deitrich Bonhoeffer, cited in McNeil & Richardson, pg. 113

These words, spoken by a Lutheran Minister who actively opposed Nazi Germany, highlights not only the source of our world’s problems, but also the responsibility (personal and collective) we have to address problems once we are aware of their source. In one of the most powerful scenes in the first “Matrix”(1999) movie, once Neo is “unplugged” from the matrix, he notices that his eyes are bothering him. Once he tells Morpheus that his eyes are bothering him, Morpheus replies by saying that it is because he “never used them before.” Similarly, I think that as we as Christians work towards progressing in our personal, social, and cultural walk in Christ, we are going to experience constant phases of learning-unlearning-relearning because we are constantly experiencing new ways to view ourselves, others, and the world through our newly acquired, ever-evolving spiritual eyes.

To conclude the book, the authors leave us with the following challenge:

“This is a new season for leadership in the church. No longer will we be defined by a few charismatic superstar leaders at the center of all Christian activity. We are moving into a corporate model of leadership in this day. The new models of leadership that are emerging will be much more accountable to the communities they serve. In order to accomplish this, God is moving people forward into places of authority and responsibility. We must be ready to take a stand.”

McNeil & Richardson, pg. 155

No comment here, as the challenge is pretty self-explanatory. What do you think? About inviting Jesus into our hurtful memories and experiences? About getting used to using our spiritual eyes? About the role of Christians in reconciling people, groups, and nations of the world? Until next time, be encouraged, share your thoughts, and speekonit…


Anonymous said...

I feel that inviting Jesus into past hurtful experiences is the best way to let go of the anguish they cause. So many times we hold on to these feelings and project them onto other people. As christians we most first and foremost learn to treat each other with respect and view every person, no matter what race, religion or sexuality as children of God, therefore making us all kin. We should also keep in mind there is only one judge and we are not mentally equipped to judge as HE would.

Unknown said...

Hey byhisgrace,

I totally agree with you. It all starts with love and respect for others, as reflected in our relationship with God. Thanks for hitting up the page!