Do We Alienate Our White Brothers and Sisters?
Recently, in response to the article “I, Racist” written by John Metta, a white friend of mine wrote a very impassioned Facebook post expressing heartfelt frustration. Her post ended with the following:
“I can’t possibly understand racial issues because I am white and the cause of the problem; But at the same time I’m supposed to speak up and help fix the problem.”
Responses that Alienate
As her brother in Christ, her frustration grieves me. The racial conversation in America is extremely exhausting for Blacks. We have a right to be frustrated and angry, and a right to express these feelings. Could it be that in all our expressions, we create tension with our white brothers and sisters?
I am not advocating our white brothers and sisters get a free pass from hearing our feelings and concerns. I am saying it is possible the rhetoric we use to discuss issues impacting our community is also language that alienates our white brothers and sisters.
As long as sin remains, there will be tension along racial lines. We cannot determine how the majority culture responds to racially charged incidences. However, we can control our response and how we discuss these issues. I offer the following questions to consider as we move forward.
1. Is my response to racial issues Christ-exalting and Gospel-advancing?
In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to identify the true enemy. We must remember the root cause of racism is sin. The remedy for sin is the Gospel. A good model for response would be one that identifies man as a sinner (Romans 3:23), exalts Christ as Savior (1 Timothy 1:15), and offers the Gospel as the hope for reconciliation (Ephesians 2:11-22).
2. What are my expectations for a response?
Does the black community say white people are incapable of understanding the problem while, on the other hand, expecting them to solve it? Do we have standards for what would qualify as an acceptable response? If so, have we made these guidelines known to our white brothers and sisters?
Most importantly, is it fair to have the expectation that they speak to our issues in a manner that we deem appropriate?
3. Are we truly part of one Body?
In 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, Paul lays out the vital importance of each member of the body of Christ and how we should operate as one body. When we come to Christ, we do not check our ethnicity at the door. But we do commit to our ethnicity becoming a secondary identity to our identity as a follower of Christ.
We do not have the right to say the perspectives and feelings of our white brothers and sisters do not matter, just as they do not have the right to say as much to us. We are all members of the Body of Christ. Our responses as Black people should reflect this reality more deeply than the reality of our ethnicity.
4. Are we truly part of one family?
All believers in Christ have been sealed by the Spirit of Adoption and made fellow heirs of the grace of God (Romans 8:14-17). Before we are black or white, we are sons and daughters of God. This status before God was purchased at the great cost of the blood of Christ. As members of one family, we have a bond that was forged through the horror and the beauty of the Cross.As Black believers, we must remember that we are members of the family of God before we are members of an ethnic community.
5. Is the blood of Christ sufficient to address my pain and frustration?
Christ paid the penalty for all sins, including the sin of racism when he shed his blood on the Cross. In our quest to search for answers, we must first start by looking to him and his sacrifice. No man or woman alive can fulfill our desire for justice. It is only in the Gospel of Christ we can find peace and answers to the chaos of this present world.
In recognizing that in Christ we have the remedy for our pain, we may find that a specific response from our white brothers and sisters becomes less important.
As we seek to form our responses to the racial atrocities of our day, we must wrestle with why and how we respond. Our voices are important, but we must use them with prudence. When we do harm to our white brothers and sisters in our speech, we are harming members of our own family.
The road to racial reconciliation is a long and arduous one requiring all believers, regardless of ethnicity, to traverse it together. Taking pride in who we are as a people and standing up for our community is vitally important. I encourage us all to take steps to ensure we take our stand from a Biblical perspective.
May we all, both black and white, walk together in the grace and peace our Lord Christ Jesus provides as we work towards racial reconciliation. May we also take hope in the Day, when the sin of racism is no more as people from every tribe, tongue, and language gather around the throne, giving praise to our God and King!
Have you had a conversation with a white brother or sister to address issues of racism in America?
If so, what conclusions did you leave the conversation with on how you could move forward together as members of the family of God?