The Social Network.
There was much in last Sunday’s QPLive to provoke deep reflection and repentance. Not least how we heal divisions, treat one another with dignity and celebrate our racial and cultural differences.
I am deeply aware that it is no longer enough to be non-racist, but it is necessary to be anti-racist. This means, at least, that we need to identify some of the structural hurdles which limit the participation in and leadership of folks from the majority world in our church. Undoubtedly it means we need to speak up about our city and repent of the way in which its wealth and prestige arose from slavery, and of course we must not overlook to stain of sectarianism which pollutes the west of Scotland and tarnishes the church’s witness.
However, we must also must examine our own hearts. The fruit of true repentance is not virtue signalling or tokenism but changed attitudes and actions. We would go a long way to dismantling division by simply extending our love and friendship across cultures within our church, listening to one another and speaking out in support of those facing prejudice. It may be as simple as speaking to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Of course there are some of us doing an amazing job (usually without realising it) of this already for which we are all grateful.
Tackling racism and the church.
Tackling racism should be a home match for the church, its what the church was made for! The New Testament churches deliberately sought to integrate both the racially oppressed and the racial oppressors into their communities. The leaders bluntly confronted people who regarded Jew and gentile as having different values before God. (Read what Paul threatened to do to racists in Gal 5:12). It was the apostles’ life work to see the walls of segregation crumble before the cross of Christ. The prompting for writing the great letters such as Romans is now regarded as being racial tension in churches.
Of course, these diverse communities were imperfect and incomplete pictures of the coming kingdom yet it remains that the “fellowship of differents” is the most powerful visible representation of God’s kingdom plan to reconcile all things to himself.
This Sunday we will be considering a foundational practise of the church – laying ourselves down for others. We will consider John 13 where Jesus, conscious of the unique privilege of status as God’s son submits his blessing for the benefit of others.
In the race debate “privilege” is a loaded word. But we are all privileged in some way – if you are reading this on a computer you are privileged with education and expensive resources!
In my own reflections on racial harmony I have found Dr Bryan Loritts a helpful guide. He is a pastor, thinker and leader on racial reconciliation in US, he says:
“Many are misinformed when they say white privilege, demonizing privilege for the sake of privilege. When we do this, we need to be wary of hypocrisy. Just about all of humanity has received a portion of privilege (some more than others of course).
Philippians 2:1-11 argues that Jesus was the most privileged person ever to live, who in his status was God. But what did Jesus do with his privilege? He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8).
Does white privilege exist? Absolutely. Should our white brothers and sisters feel guilty about their privilege? Let me ask it this way – did Jesus feel guilty about his? No. Neither should our white siblings. So, the real issue isn’t privilege – because we all have a measure of it – it’s the stewardship of privilege. In humility, Jesus used his privilege to die on the cross for us, so that we may have eternal life. Here he shows us the potency of privilege stewarded well.”
How are you and I stewarding the privileges we have received?
– What can we learn from Jesus’s self-giving that will help us to reach out and support one another across ethnic and social diversity?
– Following the huge impact of COVID and the Black Lives Matter movements, the world has changed and we cannot go back to our “old normal” what do you think God might be saying to you personally and to Christians generally about the “new normal” ahead of us and how we should live ?
– What opportunities and challenges do the waves of Covid, Black lives matter and looming economic difficulty offer the church for mission and justice in our world?
Phina’s five points to combat racism
1. Pray – ask the Holy Spirit to show you prejudices you have towards the black (and other ethnic) communities.
2. Educate yourself about people’s lived experience. Talk to your non-white friends and ask questions.
3. Speak up and call out racism – even if its uncomfortable, saying something is better than silence.
4. Be inclusive when thinking about leadership roles, organising events, making decisions. Invite members of other ethnic groups into your space, celebrate various cultures regularly as church.
5. Use your white privilege to fight racism