It seems inevitable now. Things are slowly going back to the way they were. We are returning to some sense of normalcy. For some, this brings relief, but for me it brings added frustration. I had hoped, that with all we had gone through in the last year, this time, significant change would result. The series of events which exposed the nation’s ugly underbelly, I believed was providentially designed to force us to deal, finally, with racism; if not in the nation at least in the church. It seems now I was wrong.
It seems we do not have neither the desire nor the stomach to see the “dialogue” we began continue beyond words to substantive change. It appears a few zoom calls, pulpit swaps, and a statement was the extent of our capacity or of our endurance. Meanwhile, we are drifting back to our separate and ethnically homogeneous churches, which is not only indicative of the problem, but also the ground out of which the problem is allowed to grow. Back to normal.
I met with a friend this week in our first chance to talk about some of these things. I carried my frustration into the meeting and I came away with a question that would not let me go until I had an answer. The question stuck in my conscience and only an honest answer would free me. What do I want?
What Am I Willing To Concede?
I have to change. The fight is consuming me. I feel it dragging me farther and farther into the darkness. There must be a better way; a more righteous way. A way that doesn’t blind me to what’s happening to me.
There is something very unrighteousness about my perceived righteous place in the struggle. Believing I’m right, and I do, makes me smug, prideful, and lacking in grace.
In this way the struggle is consuming, poisoning my soul. Only God can be righteous in Himself. I get a strange feeling of satisfaction from being morally right, and the feeling is made better when I can make them know it. There is a morbid satisfaction when their arguments don’t stand up to mine; when I stand on good historical ground. But none of this works for my good. Self righteousness consumes the soul. I must remember that it is Christ who is right, not me.
What Do I Want?
Please know there were days between this paragraph and the last. But here goes. What I want is for them to get it. I want, by my influence, them to see it, be startled by the ugliness, stunned by the amount of time lost in denial, silence, and complicity. I want them to look around their own churches and see the absence of people of color in their pews and in their leadership and recognize that they have not been straightforward in the truth of the gospel, and grieve; lament.
Then I want them to be restored and lifted by the grace of God and His people to the great place of humble service for His kingdom; service with and alongside us. And yes, I want to participate in that happening. I want my pain and frustration to find vindication in their transformation, so that it will not have been in vain. I want a direct connection to the change; to the better place. I need it so that I don’t simply bury the pain. I need my own story to matter in this great struggle to maintain the unity of the Spirit.
But it appears racism will slink back into the shadows, where it will again gain strength from the darkness, until it rises again to plague the next generation. And the Church will remain the last segregated institution. The last place to reflect the growing diversity of the nation. The place birthed in the unity of the Spirit by the the cross of Christ will be bringing up the rear. There will be exceptions of course, but they will be just that, exceptions. The saints are tired and we will be asked to settle again for “dialogue” and occasional pulpit swaps, while we proclaim “it’s about sin not skin.”
What do I what? Well, it looks like what I want will just have to wait.