#WhiteChurchQuiet and the inconvenience of love

September 27th, 2016

One of the greatest temptations that we bear as Christians is allowing our focus to become narrowed upon our own perspective, our own needs and our own wants. We may not all have a struggle with coveting thy neighbor’s wife, but we have all struggled at one point with how another person’s need inconveniences us. If it were not a struggle for us, it would not be necessary for Jesus to tell us to give the thirsty something to drink, the hungry something to eat, the homeless somewhere to live.

Responding to a need that we may not feel ourselves irritates us at times, and sometimes even causes us to downplay the outcry we hear to make ourselves believe it is not urgent. In our most selfish moments, we move through the world as if a need simply does not exist if it does not exist for us.

“Why are we still talking about dinner? I don’t need to eat” says the man who — unlike his companions — has already eaten.

“Why are we still looking for a rest stop? It will only slow us down,” says the woman who — unlike her companions — does not need to use a restroom.

“Why do we need to find shade? I feel just fine,” asks the child who — unlike his companions — enjoys being in the sun.

“Why are we still talking about race? I don’t see race,” says the white person who — unlike their companions — does not experience racism.

While each of these examples may be fairly common, it is the last one that causes the most concern. It was that kind of attitude that caused the Lord to instruct Jeremiah to write in Jeremiah 6:14:

“They have treated the wound of my people carelessly,
     saying, Peace, peace,”
     when there is no peace.”

The fact that you do not bear a wound, feel its pain or dread its power does not mean that a wound does not exist. Yet, that seems to be the message that many white Christians are sending out, whether intentionally or unintentionally, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

A week ago as #WhiteChurchQuiet trended on Twitter, it could not be any more clear that the wound many were feeling in their soul was being ignored by the majority of white Christians in the United States. As images of Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott bleeding in the street filled people’s timelines, many took to social media to challenge their white friends who were silent about this wound to speak up in a variety of ways, with a variety of responses. For some it was the first time confronting their white friends; for others, the silence had taught them to stop trying to get them to speak up long ago.

At moments like this, as white Christians, we do not need to have all the answers: that is unnecessary. We do not need to take charge: that is disempowering. We do not even need to fully understand: that is impossible. All we really need to do is be Christians; by that I mean listening to the cry, believing it expresses a real need, and caring enough to do something.

Is it any wonder that that was how Jesus divided the sheep from the goats, those who belonged to him from those who did not belong to him? His determination was based on how did you treat others. When they were thirsty, did you seek to end their thirst by giving them something to drink? When they were in prison, did you seek to end their loneliness by visiting them? When they were hungry, did you seek to end their hunger by giving them something to eat? When they were racially profiled, did you seek to end their dehumanization by speaking up? When they were stopped & frisked, did you seek to end their criminalization by demanding reform? When they were shot in the street, did you seek to end their endangerment by demanding accountability?

Did you stand when they stood, kneel when they kneeled, mourn when they mourned, rejoiced when they rejoiced? Did you listen when they spoke to you; believe what they said to you; do what they asked of you? Did you live like their life mattered just as much as yours; like their truth mattered just as much as yours; like their children should live just as long as yours?

All of this could really be summed up with one question: did you love God? 

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