racial injustice. now what.

I’m diving right in with some thoughts on racial injustice and the complex mess we as the (un)United States face. Because that seems like a fun, light-hearted thing to do. Or not.

I was sitting in Starbucks when it hit me. I’ve been wrestling with shame and guilt over the fact that I’m a white girl. It’s like I want to apologize to everyone of a different color who crosses my path for being born this way.

But…that’s not a helpful train of thought. Or from Jesus. So I’m stopping that. Because we can’t choose the color we’re born, but we can choose what we do while we’re in the skin we’re in.

 

racial injustice

 

The morning before the Dallas shootings I had posted the essay by Propaganda from Relevant Magazine onto Facebook — not knowing that his words would shed even more perspective when I woke up the next morning to news of more death. In the essay, Propaganda talks about “white privilege” — a phrase I’ve always despised so instead I’ve mostly ignored. But as I’ve tried to prayerfully peel back the layers and implications of the phrase, I’m seeing what seems to be unreachable depths with the issue of racial equality in this nation. Which can be paralyzing.

I’m an idealist at heart. I’ve always been the type who sees the silver lining and wishes we could all just get along. I like the idea of everyone holding hands and singing friendship songs with the smell of sweetness in the air. But in reality, there are American systems and mindsets in place that discourage, and straight up constrain, that from happening. And when we place those systems, for hundreds of years, on human hearts, we’re left with a painful mess.

So it brings me back to square one — that hopeless square that tempts me to throw my hands up and say, “The division and confusion is too big and too craptacular, so I’m just not going to do anything.” Silence.

But the heart of God is for His kingdom to come to earth. (Matthew 6:9-15) Jesus ushered in the “kingdom of heaven” when He stepped on this planet. His Spirit comes to live inside those who believe and follow, placing His kingdom into the heart of man. And in Christ, we’re commanded and empowered to call forth His kingdom into our broken world, one life at a time.

Yes, our world is jacked up. People bathe in deep seeded hatred. And it seems that lasting change sits far out of reach on some tall mountain mocking us for our efforts. But the God I know can crush mountains that hinder His love. The God I know can bring dead people to life and give sight to the blind.

 

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
(Revelation 7:9, Come, Lord Jesus.)

 

But what are we to do? How can individuals change a system that seems to so deeply define the fabric of a nation? I don’t know. If I did you could write me in for president. But I do know there are some basic truths that could steer us towards a solution.

 

Truth #1: Whatever our skin color, God has us where we are with purpose. And that’s where we can begin to make a difference.

Whether we’re running a corporation, stepping into political office, making overpriced coffee drinks, or playing with our kids at a park, all of us have opportunities to encourage racial justice where we live. All of us have some influence somewhere. Now we get to choose what we do with it. We can bury our head in the sand and pretend injustice isn’t happening outside our front doors. Or in the love of Christ, we can open our eyes and seek to understand the state of our culture so that we can then be conduits of God’s kingdom on planet earth, right where we stand.

Which leads to truth #2.

 

Truth #2: Words are power. Start a conversation.

Once we’re willing to admit that there are still significant racial problems in our country (hello!) then we can start conversations. We can reach “across the line” and ask honest questions in efforts to understand. Understand hearts. Understand struggles. Understand perspective. And if we’re already in relationships with people of a different color, then let’s not allow fear-based silence to take hold. Start conversations and then take those conversations before the Lord in prayer. His heart is for unity. He hears the prayers of His people. And He alone can heal and move hearts.

 

Truth #3: Hope still exists.

The morning of the Dallas shootings my kids and I went to the pool. I watched as kids of all colors played together, taking turns jumping off the side and catching balls. And I thought, “There’s still hope.” Yes, systems and structures are in place. And we cannot deny a history dripping with injustice. But systems can change by people who are changed by the gospel of Jesus. History can be forgiven and healed by a God who truly binds up the wounded heart. And the next generation in the hands of a mighty God, walking boldly in His Spirit, could be the key.

I’ve had a couple of friends tell me that they will have to have conversations with their kids (because they’re African-American) that I won’t have to have with mine. And that sickens me. But I’m thinking that I need to be having honest conversations with my white kids that (unfortunately for the moment) these particular friends won’t have to have with their kids. I need to teach my kids that because of their skin color, they have a unique responsibility in this nation. They have a responsibility to stand in the gap when they see injustice. They have a responsibility not to be silent but to speak out. They have a responsibility to use this “white privilege” — as much as the phrase disgusts me — as an agent of change so that maybe, just maybe, the phrase will truly be a piece of history when their kids are born.

God still sits secure on His throne. And because of Him, there’s still hope. Change may seem like a long way off. It may be a long way off. But change can begin when people, in the hands of an Almighty God, grasp the depths and height and width of the love of Christ so that His transforming love then spills out. Change can happen through me (and you) right where God has us in the skin He’s placed us with the people before us, to the glory of the God of love.

Amen.

 

Disclaimer: I believe that the love of Christ transforming the heart of man is ultimately the only solution to all human atrocities, including racial injustice. All are welcome here but I’m primarily addressing those who believe the same, calling us out of our possible slumber.

 
Fill me, Lord…

I almost turned off the comments on this one but, what says you?
 

how to create a culture of passion for Jesus in our homes

“Passion isn’t taught. It’s caught.” That was the exclamation point on our pastor’s sermon last Sunday. And I can’t stop thinking about it.

I mean, I’d say that my deepest desire is to be passionate for my God. I can get pretty fired up in a worship service standing next to other believers, hands raised high, telling God to take us wherever He wants us to go. Add a smoke machine and flashing lights and watch the heck out. But put me in my everyday life with my everyday struggles and the everyday frustrations and y’all, I have to wrestle my heart. Constantly.

 

culture of passion for Jesus

 

It’s like my passion for a clean home or obedient kids or quiet or…coffee…can trample my passion for Jesus in 2.8 seconds flat if I’m not on guard. External remedies for the thirst within can tempt my focus. And they’re convincing.

I know there’s “regular” life to live and we can’t always be on that “mountaintop” with Jesus. But I’m certain that my pastor is right about passion. People in our sphere of influence will more quickly do what we do, rather than do what we say. So if we’re going to create a “culture of passion” in our homes for the Lord, then it has to begin in us. Passion for Him isn’t manipulated or faked. It can’t be demanded or bought. It’s the natural overflow of His Spirit not only sealing us, but filling us full.

So what stops His Spirit from filling us full? Well. To put it blunt. Sin. Sin hinders His fullness in our lives. Which is why, if we want to live a passionate-for-Jesus life out of the overflow of Him in us, we have to be willing to bow low — to repent when self rises up — moment by moment.

It’s asking for eyes to see and ears to hear and tenderness to know when unlove or fear or resentment or anger or bitterness or gossip (or a million other expressions of self) rears its ugly head. The flesh trying to stomp out the Spirit’s reign in us. The second we finally see the messy sin that’s being pressed out of our hearts through our circumstance, by His absolute grace, we stop. We repent. We let the blood of Jesus cleanse us from that flesh rebellion. Then we move forward in His mercy, welcoming the fullness of His Spirit.

Then we do it all over again the next time our sin rises up.

Then the next.

By His power, we have to actively war against the sin in our souls. Or else, I promise, the sin will eat us — our joy, our peace, and our hope — alive. And passion for Jesus will become something we only look at from afar.

To me, passion for Jesus in the midst of everyday, looks like a war against my own heart. It looks like outward repentance that affects my emotions and my choices. It looks like choosing to praise and dance even when I feel despair. It looks like taking my thoughts captive to what’s true by verbally remembering what He says in His Word. It looks like a race — running hard and with endurance, eyes set on the finish line.

We’re going to fail. And thankfully the salvation, and even the passion, of others doesn’t actually rest in our hands — God alone raises the dead soul. But everyday, in Him, we get some choices. By His grace, we can choose to commune with our Father. In His strength, we can choose to fight the fight of faith. Because of Jesus, we can create a culture of passion in our homes as we press into Him, one moment then the next.

 
Fill me, Lord…

How would you describe “passion for Jesus” in the everyday of life?
 

for when we’re face-to-face with someone’s bad day

Poor guy. The drink machines weren’t working which meant that his customers were thirsty. Once the line went down I politely, quietly went up to the counter to ask if he could fill my cup with some water from the tap. “The drink machine is broken!” he barked. I felt my eyes widen and my head jerk back a little and then I kindly nodded with understanding. I silently turned and made my way back to my seat.

“Geez. He doesn’t have to be so rude,” I thought to myself. But then I remembered what a stupid rough morning it must have been for him. I mean, being a manager of a restaurant with a broken drink machine has to come with some level of stress. First-world problems. So I just prayed for him.

A couple of minutes passed and then he came to my table. “I’m sorry, it’s just that we only have tap water and it’s not cold,” he said with regret in his voice. “Don’t worry about it. Really. It’s no big deal,” I assured him. He held up his index finger as if to say “give me a second,” and then he rushed around the counter. I saw him grab a bottled water from what looked like the staff refrigerator. “Here,” he said, “I insist. It’s the least I can do.” I took it with a thank you and then he got back to work. Humbled.

 

When faces with someone else's bad day
(And just to protect the innocent,
this incident did not happen at a Starbucks.)

 

That could have turned out completely different. I could have mouthed back. I wanted to mouth back. I could have jumped over the counter and…done…something. I’m such a trouble-maker. Not really. I could have entered into his bad day and taken on his bad attitude changing the whole course of my good morning. Thankfully, I didn’t.

But I do. When it’s someone close to me — like…my kids — I can get offended. I can enter into their bad day and take on their bad attitude and change the whole course of my good morning. Why do I do that?!

It’s so much better when, by God’s absolute grace and only through His Spirit’s empowering, I leave a buffer between me and someone else’s bad day. When I look at things from a less defensive approach — praying rather than talking back, speaking blessing rather than cursing — the results are beauty rather than tornado-ish, relational destruction.

We all have bad days. But instead of taking on someone else’s bad day, we get a choice. We get to choose our response.

I can’t do it on my own. He’s gracious to indwell us. I don’t always do it well. He’s gracious to forgive us. But if I’ve spent time communing with God and meditating on true things, I’m much more apt to intercede. When I’ve allowed Him to fill me full of Himself, I’m much less needy for others to give me security.

 

A beautiful prayer that Paul prayed for others:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:14-19

 

It’s going to happen because it’s Thursday, and we live on this planet. Someone around us will struggle against their heart or their circumstance in search of true joy. But we get to choose our response. We can choose to help them rather than drag them further down. We can choose to stand in the gap, praying to the only One who’s able to heal-hearts and change perspectives.

It’s our choice, today.

 
Fill me, Lord…

What helpful things do you do when face-to-face with someone else’s bad day?