When figuring out how to help someone who contacts us or whom we are connected with our team tries to use this chart. We try not to treat a relief situation like a development situation because that is heartless. We try not to treat a development situation like a relief situation because that is toxic. This week we have seen the results of long-term relief.
It seems that we would have learned from our efforts to try and solve other social problems in the same way. Long-term relief that does not turn into development is often left lacking.
When it comes to racial unity within the body of Christ the response has often been held to that of relief. There has been an immediate response to catastrophe but little lasting development, deep relationship building. We have the stats and the eye test that tells us that we are not as unified as we should be but our answer continues to be post tragedy community worship services and prayer vigils. These are great relief efforts in reconciliation but not vital development opportunities. Therefore, we find ourselves in the same spot. So what…
What is the most hurtful?
The most hurtful thing is that sometimes African Americans have fallen victim to the gospel-plight. The gospel plight is that the majority of Christians who don’t share their faith will initially say that they don’t do so because they feel ill-equipped to speak on the matter. When in reality after more discussion more will tell you it is really a fear of rejection issue. When it comes to tragedies in the African American community often it seems that our Anglo brothers and sisters follow the same line of explanation.
That is a universal problem but where it turns into its deepest form of hurt is when African Americans see our Anglo brothers and sisters use their platforms to respond to the tragedies and injustices they see in other areas. We begin to view it as we are not worth the risk of rejection. Our unity becomes one of convenience. The silence brings us to tears.
Another issue is the comment of “just stop talking about race” or “I don’t see color”. The question is why is it considered beautiful in nature when complementary colors are placed together by God in a sunset and nature scenes but not in our relationships, churches, and etc? We do see color. Seeing color is not the problem. How we interpret that color is the problem.
What do we do?
- Form real relationships outside of programmed and structured time with people not like you. Don’t take the sucker’s choice. When tragedy happens think of not only the joy of the messiah being born but also the hurt of all the mothers who had their young boys killed by Herod. Crying with the weeping mother does not mean you can’t rejoice at the birth of the Savior. Mourning at injustice with your African American brothers and sisters doesn’t mean that you can’t also mourn at the senseless killing of police officers.
- Use your platform for injustice near and far. Speak carefully but at least let it be known that you identify with the hurt. When you get more information have more informed conversations. Review your posts, likes, and shares. What perception do they give?
- Begin to see our cultures and backgrounds as enhancers instead of divisors. Our heart, passions, abilities, personalities, cultural backgrounds, and experiences make our team better. See diversity in background and culture the same way you see a beautiful Caribbean sunset bursting with color. Both should bring a tear of amazement and wonder to our eyes.
- I am saving the hardest for last. We need some multi-ethnic churches with leadership that reflects the make-up of our community. We need bodies of believers that model what it means to do life together. That will mean for some leaving the place where you are comfortable, moving into new communities, with new neighbors, and planting new churches that resemble the community God gives you a heart for.
Is it worth it?
Christ thought it was. He was utterly different from all mankind but He came and dwelled with us.
[Johnathan Sublet is a follower of Christ, a husband to Tricia, and a son to Diane. He has a deep love for the people and city of FREEPORT, Texas where he serves as the Servant Pastor of Crossover Community Church. He considers BBQ a love language.]