Summary: The oneness we find in Christ Jesus obliterates the social constructs that we have developed to define who is in and who is out ... who is part and who is to be left out ... who is like us and who is different for He makes us one. Connection to "Woodlawn"
One year ago, racial tensions had stirred to the boiling point in Ferguson, MO. Riots had overtaken this St. Louis suburb in the wake of what was portrayed to be an execution of Michael Brown by a white police officer. As momentum built behind the movement it seemed to no longer matter what the circumstances of the shooting might or might not have been. Witnesses were produced, many of whose testimonies did not fit the unfolding narrative, but served to foment the chaos.
This same scenario would unfold in the streets of Baltimore in April of this year, as an African-American man was mortally wounded, leading to his death, in the back of a police van. Rage swept through the streets of Baltimore, and reports said that the crowds took out their frustrations on anyone who was not African-American.
Again this summer, outbreaks of racial strife would visit the streets of Ferguson, and spill over into the streets of St. Louis.
What causes this kind of outbreak of racial tension?
We could point back to centuries of racial oppression, which have embedded themselves in the social structures that we take for granted today …
We could point to the economic and educational disadvantages that those with a darker hue are subjected to …
We could suggest that it is a moral decay in young people who have bought into a rap culture lifestyle of anger and angst …
We could say that it is the breakdown of the family in the urban environment.
We could possibly come up with a dozen more reasons for the racial crisis we confront as a nation. But I really believe that answer, while all of these issues play a component role, is really much simpler than that … simpler, if not more easily resolved.
Tony Evans says it like this: He says, “The racial problem in America is the asterisk on an otherwise respectable reputation.”
We can do better as a nation. We can do better as a country, as a community, and we can do better as a church.
Early on in my ministry at First Christian Chicago, I was attempting to get a handle on race and multi-cultural ministry. While I had been in ministry for 11 years before coming to Chicago, I had (other than one Latino man) ministered exclusively in white congregations.
I was trying to get acclimated to all of the race issues. Seeking answers to replace my ignorance of some of these issues, I innocently asked one of our ladies of a darker hue this question: “I have come to understand that this is an issue and I want to be able to be sensitive to this. Do you prefer to be called African-American or black?”
Now we all probably have in some way at some time taken an awkward step in an effort to move in the direction of moving toward unity with a different ethnicity. It was a thoughtful question…perhaps poorly worded in some ways. But in this particular case, it wasn’t motivated by malice, and it certainly wasn’t prompted by prejudice. It was asked in an effort to befriend rather than to belittle.
More recently, but still several years ago, I was talking with someone about the ethnic make-up of the congregation. It was in the wake of a racial misunderstanding. We were talking about understanding people by ethnic background. But when I mentioned one of our international members as part of their grouping, I was reminded that “They aren’t one of us. They haven’t gone through what we’ve been through.”