My daughter fell recently and got a big scrape on her skin. It was bleeding, and the skin was ripped and tender. With tears streaming down her face she asked me how long it would take to get better. I told her the pain should go away soon, but her skin would look different for a while as it healed. The tears intensified as she said, “look different? But I love the skin I’m in!”
Her sweet little comment reverberates differently in my ears today. I just watched another video of a black man being killed by white men. It was gruesome and gut-wrenching and utterly shocking. Two videos in as many weeks.
As a white woman, I have often felt that I don’t have the voice or experience or proper background to speak about racism, aside from affirming that racism is an evil that needs to end. But I have a little girl who notices the slight skin differences in our mixed white and Indian family and thinks they’re beautiful. A little girl who has no understanding or thought of racism. A little girl who loves her daddy’s “brown” skin and her mommy’s “light peach” skin and her own skin that “changes colors – sometimes it’s brown and sometimes it’s peach!” I love the skin I’m in.
I want to be a part of raising this next generation that can whole-heartedly look at each other with love and respect, honoring the skin we’re all in.
The Bible is very clear on the subject of racism. It clearly states that there is no room for division, segregation, favoritism, or racism in the Body of Christ.
Galatians 3:26-28 says “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, though faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
And 1 John 2:9-10 declares “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.”
Some of my brothers and sisters, whom I love dearly, are hurting right now. I don’t have to know “the whole story” of each shooting video to know that it brings an extra layer of pain to an entire culture of people. I don’t have to know the details of who, why, and how to know that years of overt and systemic and hidden racism can shape a nation. I don’t have to completely understand the intricacies of how black people feel to extend empathy and love and support. I don’t have to personally be wounded to feel the pain.
I don’t know if these white men were motivated to kill these black men because of the color of their skin. But I do know that these murders were brutal, 100% avoidable, horrible, and grievous to the heart of God. I DO know that these acts bring a complete other layer and level of pain to my black friends that I may never understand. I DO know that some of my black friends and loved ones still feel the sting of racism today. I DO know that each time something like this happens, it leaves them feeling more vulnerable. I DO know that if I were raising black children I would be having different conversations with them than I have to have with my children.
A black man struggles for air, helpless as police and bystanders watch, and barely murmurs “I CAN’T BREATH.” A layered phrase if I’ve ever heard one.
Black friends, I don’t know the depths of what you are going through. It is hard for me to imagine that racism can still exist in our nation, let alone in our churches, but I know that it does. This broken world we live in continues to crumble each day. These divisions widen, and we just yell louder at each other. The media takes advantage of any outrage they can latch onto and stoke the fire of discord. It feels nearly impossible to have a conversation about these differences without walking on eggshells, desperate to not offend or say the wrong thing.
When I say the only answer to this is Jesus, it is not a cop-out. It is not a platitude like a casual “I’ll pray for you” when we don’t know what to say. The literal ONLY answer to a division of this magnitude is God.
The rest of the passage in 1 John 2:9-11 says, “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
Lord, open our eyes. Let us see the parts of the body of Christ that are in pain right now. Let us be sensitive to the wounds of our brothers and sisters. Let us walk in the light of unrestrained love. Help us to see the ways we cause division and help us to see how we can bring unity.
We need You to bring healing to the hurting hearts. We need Your red blood to cover and cleanse the souls in our black and white and brown and peach bodies. We need Your mercy to fill the gaps between us, Your grace to unite what divides. We need Your Spirit to examine us and reveal any sin in our hearts that cause us to look at anyone as less than. We need to align our thoughts and actions with Your pure Word. We need to be Your hands and feet as we interact in a broken world. We need to allow Your love and the fruits of the spirit to come out of our hearts and mouths as our first reaction, not skepticism or hate or prejudice. We need Your peace and love and mercy as we navigate these waters.
Whoever loves his brother abides in the light. Lord, let us live in that light.