BY MICHELLE WILLIAMS, GRACE ATTENDER
We need to talk about hatred and racial injustice. I believe that God has called the people of Grace Church to unite and identify concrete ways we can confront racism and hatred that exists in our community. It's so clear that our country needs a higher standard, and I know in my soul that we can do more to set the example.
That's a tall order, but I'm confident that the hearts and minds of the people at Grace Church are receptive to it. I think we collectively feel that God brought us together to boldly confront and heal brokenness.
The brokenness in this area is visible to all of us. Our black friends and neighbors are telling us that their sense of safety is threatened on a daily basis. We should all be hearing that message loud and clear by now. Our country recently witnessed the hatred-fueled murder of Ahmaud Arbery. This month, our own community has seen how the fear of hatred and racial injustice prompts our neighbors like Dreasjon Reed to feel that their best chance for survival is to resist and run from authority. This week, four police officers in Minneapolis have been fired after using a restraint technique considered to be against department regulations that led to the death of George Floyd. This is not right. We must unify and do more to defeat hatred in our country and foster safety and equity for our neighbors. But what can we do?
As I've prayed and talked with God about my own role in confronting racial hatred and injustice, a clear calling has begun to emerge. I feel prompted to do what I can to appeal to those who simply need to wake up to the ways in which systems of racism work. I believe there are many people among us who would be willing to stand up against systems of racial injustice if they could just "See" it. We need a bigger team to dismantle the systems of racism that breed hatred and perpetuate oppression.
The first time I watched the documentary 13th on Netflix, I suddenly realized that I'd been unwillingly assimilated into the systems of racism in many ways, beginning as a white child. I felt a strong sense of awakening during the portion of the documentary that covered the War on Drugs, which I vividly remembered learning about in elementary school. I intuitively sensed the immense task I faced to "unlearn" the indoctrination that started during my youth. I saw it and I finally understood how it got a foothold in my own life.
My calling now is to appeal to the people who are nearly there, like I was the day I watched that documentary. I want to do what I can to reach and recruit the people who will readily embrace a calling of confronting hatred and injustice once they recognize how those evils covertly operate all around us. One big factor that holds many back from deeper understanding is a resistance to a sense of discomfort and uncertainty that arises around discussions regarding racism, hatred, and racial injustice.
If we claim to love and follow Jesus Christ, we must be willing to use these feelings of discomfort and uncertainty as a prompt to invite God to transform us and grant us deeper understanding. These feelings might show up as pain, defensiveness, confusion, shame, denial and a slew of other undesirable sensations. It can be deeply upsetting to realize and admit that we've lived our lives with privileges that have not been afforded to people of other racial groups, and we might seek to avoid or deny it at all costs. But wading into and moving past our discomfort and uncertainty around racism is an act of following Jesus. Let's embrace this calling with enthusiasm and gratefulness for the sacrifice Jesus made for us. And when we're met with resistance to this posture by other white neighbors, let's adopt the attitude of Paul in his letter to the Galatians: If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant.
I was so moved when Brene Brown read the following parable on a recent episode of her podcast.
According to an ancient Hasidic parable: A king quarrels with his son, and in a fit of rage, exiles his son from the kingdom. After a number of years, the king's heart softens, and he sends his ministers to find his son and ask him to come home. But the young man resists the invitation. He feels too bitter, too hurt to return. When the ministers present the sad news to the king, he sends them out again with a new message for his son.
Return as far as you can, and I will come the rest of the way to meet you.
Jesus loves each of us so deeply that he will meet us exactly where we are. I know that all my friends at Grace Church aspire to follow Jesus in loving people this way. In order to love and meet our black neighbors where they are, it may require us to soften our hearts, wade through our discomfort and uncertainty, push ourselves to learn new perspectives, face resistance from those who deny that racism is a barrier, and many other difficult steps along the journey. But that's where Jesus is going. Will you join me and follow Him? Let's unite to identify the concrete ways that we will confront hatred and racial injustice in our community to set a higher standard for our country.
This is not the first time we've written about racism and hatred, and sadly, it probably won't be the last. To read more, click here.
The Bible could not be more clear about this topic. See what Jesus and the scriptures have to say in the sermons below:
Ways to Get Involved
Looking for some ways to jump in. Whether you're new and looking to learn or you're wanting to be a part of a group that's taking action, here are a few ways you can get involved:
1. Be a part of The Listening Table. The Listening Table We're a task force building a longer table full of diverse people and stories, with an open invitation for all to sit down and listen and share along with us. We know we don't have all the answers or even all the questions, so we're open-handedly and attentively learning from voices of the marginalized. Specifically, we're a group working to combat racism and white supremacy in Hamilton County, IN and Indianapolis through education, prayer, and action. Learn more here.
2. Speak out. It can be that simple. If you hear something, step in and have hard conversations. If you see something, tell someone who needs to know. Do not ever hesitate to step in when you see hate happening.