Listening to Least-Heard Voices
#BlackLivesMatter while society roils on. This fallen world in which fallen people feign control is ripe for the redemptive message.
Do you pause when someone tells you that black lives matter? If so, consider why this is the case. I hope any pause would come not from disagreement with this simple and true statement. Realize that the alternative to saying black lives matter is to say that black lives don’t matter. Do these lives of our brothers and sisters matter to you? Say it out loud. Black lives matter. Do you hear the truth in it? Do you believe the truth in it?
I confess that when #BlackLivesMatter first began to garner greater media coverage, I would pause. I would pause and sit with so many questions. I identified two reasons for this. First, I realize that my life has not been, to any great degree, naturally exposed to the stories of my black brothers and sisters — and I have done little to move my life into such a posturing toward the ethnic diversity around me. Second, Black Lives Matter is a bold statement that empowers a movement. I am always hesitant to hop on the bandwagon of a cause simply for the sake of the cause or to identify myself with and endorse something I don’t fully understand. But, as I pray into these matters, I am coming to understand that Black Lives Matter is more than a cause — it is a rallying cry of the oppressed. We ought not dismiss it in these days.
In order to be sensitized to something, we must rub up against it. We must encounter it in a real way. A message from Michelle Higgins at Urbana 15 reframed my engagement with the movement. It made me face my apathy and led my ignorance nearer the light. I strongly encourage you to give it a full listen.
Redefine justice the way that God defines justice. Your God is not white. Your God is not Japanese. Your God is not Congolese. Your God is God and he made all of you. Thus, our stories must be heeded by one another. — Michelle Higgins
With the recent death of Philando Castile only blocks from where we used to live, I began more consideration of my place in this story. What have I done to perpetuate or to alleviate the divisiveness so prevalent in certain facets of our diverse society? How have I stewarded the good story of Jesus toward a restorative end? Have I made space to heed the stories of my brothers and sisters?
Consider the following thoughts by Dr. Douglas Rutt (emphasis added).
Dr. Kolb illustrates the believers’ calling as priests by making a comparison with a Latin word for priest: pontifex. For those who understand Spanish, it is not hard to understand the roots of the word pontifex as “bridge maker.” According to this definition, the Christian task as priests is to construct bridges between the Word of God and people in the contemporary world. This task or calling is not merely to bark out words, although they may be true in themselves, but to build bridges. Undoubtedly, Dr. Kolb makes an important point because he emphasizes the need to know and understand people, their way of thinking, their opinions, their worries, their dreams, their hopes, their suppositions, their worldview, their passions and sins.
The only way to understand these things is to live among those people, to develop relationships with them, and to become a friend — in short, to become interested in the lives of others. To build a bridge, one must construct upon the firm ground on both sides of the gap. Normally, when a bridge is built, the builders don’t begin on one side and simply keep building until they reach the other side; rather, builders begin on both sides of the river, and the two sides meet in the middle. That is the way a bridge is built, and it provides interesting instruction for the task of Christian witness (recognizing that all analogies limp).
You may know that I’ve largely abandoned Facebook, opting instead for Twitter. Unfortunately, few of my existing friends and family are on Twitter. Thus, my connections have been shaped somewhat independently from my “real-life” social spheres. I decided to look through the list of folks I’ve chosen to follow and was surprised at what I saw. The social sphere I had constructed was very black and white. Excluding non-personal accounts, these were the results:
As humans, the reality is that we are tribalistic — we tend towards those similar to us. However, I don’t think this is our natural state. Rather, it is a result of our broken state. It seems I’ve done little to push back — to create a space in which I might listen to the stories of my brothers and sisters of other races and ethnicities. So, in order to work on the other side of this bridge, I’ve unfollowed a good number of these folks (for a time, at least) and will be listening in on other voices. Please, let me know if you have suggestions of anyone I should be following who is not of my demographic (white middle-aged male).
Forward With Hope
I realize this is only one small step, but a step nonetheless. I recognize the general brokenness of our world and I pray that God might embolden and position me to take part in some sort of restoration. An old hymn comes to mind regularly these days — I’ve hummed it to Aelah, Simeon, and Isaiah when cradling them to sleep as babies. It often reminds me of this video. May it encourage and draw you toward hope.
Wherever you find yourself today, however you find yourself engaging your neighbors, and whatever wrestlings you find within and without, we can be sure of one thing and can return to one thing — we have a God who is faithful, loving, just, and sovereign. He has created all. He sustains all. He holds all. Your life matters because it has the image of God impressed upon it. May we honor that image in one another.
This is my Father’s world:
Oh, let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world,
The battle is not done:
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.
First published at vandercar.net/least-heard-voices/