There’s something desperately wrong in the world and I am part of the problem.
That’s the conclusion I’ve come to over the last year or two.
The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and elsewhere (too many damn “elsewheres”) have been shocking. I didn’t get what happened to Trayvon Martin. I don’t get what happened to Mike Brown or Eric Garner or Tamir Rice. I could go on naming hundreds of black men and women who have faced brutal injustice at the hands of a police officer.
Reaching out to try and understand these killings has been painful. It made me realize how disconnected I am as a white man.
“I don’t get this and I don’t even know who to talk to about this.” That’s part of the problem, isn’t it? I’ve disconnected myself from the folks I need to hear from the most. I’m part of the problem.
We can talk about it as
Whatever we call it, I’m part of the problem.
I chose the friends I have. I choose who to listen to and who to ignore. I see what I want to see, and say what I want to say. My silence, selective hearing, and lack of putting the pieces together has failed so many people and neglected my call in Christ to seek justice.
My silence, selective hearing, and lack of putting the pieces together has failed so many people and neglected my call in Christ to seek justice.
I’m part of the reason that we’re now having to firmly state that #Blacklivesmatter.
We shouldn’t have to yell that out, but we are, and for that I’m sorry.
I firmly believe there are things I can do to repent of this disunity, and the way it has allowed tragedies like the above to happen without an outcry from the majority of the Church.
For myself, as a Christian, repentance has to start with me and my church.
I’m thankful to be a part of an increasingly multi-ethnic church in Portland, Oregon. Our leadership and members are committed to seeking people unlike us because we know that is part of discipleship and following Christ the Incarnate.
Given that 90% of congregations are at least 90% racially homogenous my church body is an incredible blessing. Yet even there I’ve neglected that gift and failed to connect with people different than me.
What can be done?
It’s a small step but I think a call to unity and reading Christena Cleveland’s Disunity in Christ with you all is a start. It’s not going to fix any of these tragedies, but perhaps it will start an on-going discussion and prosper even the tiniest amount of unity.
I’m coming into this having failed at unity, but asking that we all try.
Perhaps under the name of Christ we can come together and try to knock down these injustices. I’m confident, with Christena Cleveland, that Jesus Christ is “the author of unity and the chief reconciler”.
So this is a call to unity in the midst of tragedy. This is a call to fight against racism, sexism, and every other power that destroys and for unity. This is a call to fight against the urge to “other”. To categorize. To put up divisions. To separate. I fight because I see these things in me.
I hope you will join with us as we read and discuss.
That you will push-back and listen.
That you will be open to change and to speaking prophetically.
I’m praying that this is a small part of repentance for myself, and a building up of all, because black lives matter. Unity matters. Love matters.
Here are some need-to-knows for the book club:
We’ll be reading a couple chapters of Disunity in Christ by Christena Cleveland a week. The book is available online at major retailers, but I encourage you to buy it through local vendors.
Discussion of the book will mostly be online, but feel free to meet with others locally as well.
Things to note:
- Monday-Friday we will be reading. Post any insights or questions on Twitter with #DisunityBook.
- Friday there will be a reflection and convo starter posted at Theology of Ferguson. (If you’re interested in writing let @johnluce or@faithinferguson know.)
- Over the weekend we will be discussing on that reflection/convo starter for the week’s chapters over at Theology of Ferguson.
- 12/15–12/21 — chps. 1–2
- 12/22–12/28 — chps. 3–5
- 12/29–1/4 — chps. 6–8
- 1/5–1/11 — chps. 9–10
Please feel free to invite your friends online and off. We’re encouraging folks to especially get together with those they know locally.
Stay tuned at Theology of Ferguson for discussion posts.