Brothers and sisters,
This is not one of those letters to assure you that your church is among the good people who denounce racial injustice and the killings of unarmed black people. We do most certainly abhor those things, but not because we are good. In fact, the reason we are Christians is because we are so very not good that we needed the One Good Man to die for us! We have zero righteousness of our own, only the righteousness of Jesus, given to us freely by grace through faith.
But hallelujah, his grace that covers us also changes us. And I’m convinced that one of the ways our majority-white church needs to change right now is a renewed commitment to work against racial injustice, starting in our own hearts and extending out into our community. Our brothers and sisters of color in the church are way ahead of us in this, but they’re also weary. The rest of us need to support them and learn from them without abandoning our own responsibility to engage.
Just because we’ve been teaching and preaching about race for years doesn’t mean we’ve done enough. We haven’t. And we’re certainly not going to get everything right now. But all of our staff and leaders are committed to work harder at it, and we are looking to the Holy Spirit to make us wise and humble and persistent in it.
For starters, we’ll begin a new sermon series this Sunday on Third Rails, starting with politics. Over the summer we’ll consider how the Bible helps us understand issues related to things like identity, tribalism, gender, sexuality, and pluralism – all of which overlap with our national conversation on race. In addition to the normal Q&R time after the sermon, we’re going to host an extra Q&R hour at 8:30 on Sunday night to keep the conversation going. We’re also working to organize smaller groups to grapple with race-related issues on a deeper personal level. Every white person who has grown in this area, including me, has needed a lot of information, dialogue and time to come to grips with it. Major paradigm shifts rarely happen overnight.
Last Saturday I shared a video on YouTube where I exhorted our white members to Listen, Study and Lament. I must’ve learned them from Latasha Morrison, the founder of Be the Bridge, because I heard her say them at a OneRace Movement prayer meeting on Monday. Only she used more consistent alliteration: Listen, Learn, and Lament. And she also had a fourth L: Leverage. That is, each of us should leverage the influence God has given us to “put action to our love.”
I wish I had a simple formula for how to do that. All I know is that we cannot wait for certainty before we try something, and we must not give up trying. Not because we are good, but because Jesus is good, and he is worth it.
Soberly in hope,