“Work for the welfare of the city where I have sent you…and pray on its behalf. For as it prospers, you will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7).
America is having a racial crisis. Again. Or, perhaps more accurately, the same crisis we have had for decades continues to the present day.
Here are some thoughts on the subject regarding the Lord’s people….
1) If you and I are of different races, we will see racial matters differently.
2) If your racial group is dominant and mine is in the minority, expecting us both to feel the same about racial matters is unrealistic.
3) When a racial incident breaks out, mature Christian people should measure their words and actions very carefully. None of us living hundred miles away know all the facts and anything we say is likely to be hurtful.
4) Every racial divide in America will attract its extremists of both sides. No matter which side they represent, they tend to have loud bullhorns and play to the media, and are given more airtime than those with well-reasoned out viewpoints. These are ironclad rules.
5) Agitators thrive on this kind of conflict and have a vested interest in stirring it up and keeping it going.
6) When an incident first arises in a community, the grownups on all sides of the issue should be first to rush to deal with it, rather than backing off and leaving it for the trouble-makers. Agitators love a vacuum. So, let’s not leave one.
7) Healthy relationships between the races should be established in good times when no conflicts exist and communication is easier. Otherwise, without a healthy base, when something erupts anything could happen.
8) Christian people should know the difference in speaking in the flesh and responding in the Spirit. In a crisis, those who do not know the difference–or who cannot restrain their flesh–should go home and be quiet and let the mature believers have the floor. In most cases, this will require more strength of character than they can manage.
9) When Christian people find themselves being swayed by a so-called preacher who is counseling them to act in an unChristlike way, they should get up and leave immediately. Such charlatans cannot be reasoned with and you shouldn’t even try. The best way to get their attention is by letting them suddenly find the room they are addressing to be vacant and their audience non-existent.
10) During quiet times, God’s people should reach out to others of good intention of other races and establish healthy friendships. Then, if and when an incident breaks out, these friends already have a trust relationship with which to work.
This is one of many good reasons why pastors of various races swapping pulpits (and choirs) occasionally can be good. Bringing the two congregations together for a shared meal is also a good idea, as is a leadership forum for both churches.
11) Leaving this to others–other pastors, other teachers, other parents–is a huge mistake. Anyone who cares can take the initiative and reach out to a counterpart of the other race.
12) Let us pray always for one another and love each other in Christ.
13) Doing this–any of it–requires getting out of our comfort zone. This does not come naturally or easily. We like our own circle of friends and do not enjoy putting ourselves in uncomfortable settings.
14) Taking the initiative to reach out to someone of another race may subject you to verbal opposition and slander by the immature and carnal. You may pay a price. The best response is to continue loving them and to do nothing in retaliation. A soft answer turneth away wrath. Trust the Lord to bring them around.
15) In reaching out to friends of another race to establish a friendship, be prepared to listen as well as to speak. Do not have an agenda of your own. Guard against paternalism.
16) Doing anything is better than doing nothing.
17) When meeting with an interracial group, if you know a great story that has racial overtones–even if you believe it is ideal and would be well-received–do not tell it. Someone will not understand.
18) Pray for yourself, your church and its leaders, and the churches around you, of all races.
19) In your city and county, elect thoughtful officials who are gracious to everyone. Let them know of your expectations. Stay informed as to what is going on locally.
20) Do everything you can to support your local law enforcement agencies, as far as you can. Build a relationship with the leaders to make sure they know of your concern for justice and righteousness. Do not tolerate brutality and do not condone unfairness.
21) Write letters to local officials when they get something right. Likewise, if they seem to be transgressing, find a way to express your concern to them.
“You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:13,14)