I had big plans for 2020. This would be the year I’d finally launch Verse+Virtue, an idea that had been floating around in my head for almost two years. What I didn’t plan for was a global pandemic followed by widespread civil unrest in my country. I certainly couldn’t have predicted that my first blog post would be on the topic of racism.
But here we are.
The truth is, racism wasn’t on my radar until recent events. I’m a white woman living in white suburbia. My neighborhood, church and workplace are all overwhelmingly white. While I’ve always liked the idea of diversity, it’s never been something I’ve actively sought out. I’ve been living in my own little bubble, largely unaware of the injustices happening all around me.
Two months ago I began a Bible study by Christine Cain about seeing ourselves and others as God sees us. Week six of the study slapped me in the face with a lesson titled Breaking Out of the Bubble. The following day’s lesson was called Justice: Making What’s Wrong, Right. Although I had no idea what would be transpiring in America when I chose this book eight weeks ago, God did. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the words I’ve been reading are precisely the steps many of us need to take as God stirs our hearts for our black brothers and sisters.
There are two particular passages of scripture that stood out in my reading, and I want to unpack how they relate to white Christians and our response to racism.
You have stayed at this mountain long enough. It is time to break camp and move on.
Deuteronomy 1:6-7 (NLT)
This was God’s command to the Israelites on Mount Sinai. He was about to show them the Promised Land, yet when they saw the obstacles they’d have to overcome to get there, they were afraid to move forward. A better life was waiting for them, but they lacked the faith to claim it for themselves.
Many of us have our own “mountains” that we’re reluctant to leave behind when it comes to racism in America. Worldviews, mindsets, biases and pride can keep us from understanding the truth. From our place on the mountaintop, we survey the valleys below us and assume we know what it’s like to live there. In other cases, apathy gets the better of us. The desire for comfort and convenience holds us back from taking action against the injustices we see.
Whatever your mountain, it’s time to break camp and move on.
When you break something, it hurts. We’re going to be uncomfortable when we let go of what we’ve always known in order to follow Jesus in his work of restoration. To quote Christine Caine, “No matter how painful it is or how hard it seems, we have been sent into this world to look with the eyes of Jesus, to be moved with the heart of Jesus, and to be the hands and feet of Jesus wherever there is need.”
Today there is need in the black community. We must view racism through the eyes of Jesus and do our part to help make wrong things right. And when we do, our own lives will be blessed. True joy and contentment are found when we engage in the work God is doing.
So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet.Luke 18:7-8 (MSG)
God sees the plight of his children, and only he can bring true change. If we try to overcome racism on our own, we will fail. But if we seek him first and rely on his strength to press forward, miraculous things can happen.
It all begins with prayer. We can cry out for justice on the streets, but let’s not forget to cry out to our Father in heaven. Most translations of Luke 18:7 say he will provide justice to those who cry out to him “day and night.” Day and night. Continually. We must keep praying and not give up.
So today I invite you to join me in prayer for racial reconciliation in America. Then, look for ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus. There is much work to be done, but it starts with small steps. Do the next right thing. For me, that means educating myself through books, podcasts, documentaries and Facebook groups that can help me break out of my bubble and hear the voices of the marginalized more clearly. For more ideas, check out bethebridge.com. This Christian non-profit offers resources to equip bridge-builders with the vision, skills and heart to facilitate racial healing.
Right now I’m donating all profits from my limited-edition Justice print to the work of Be the Bridge. Four sizes are available, so you can display it on your wall or bring it to a protest. (Please note this is a digital file that you print yourself.) Purchase your Justice print now, and support the work of an organization that is responding to racial brokenness and systemic injustice in our world.