While reading Dr. Winston’s book, ‘The Kingdom of God in You’, he mentioned that John the Baptist had a “transition ministry” which involved “tearing up” the “hard ground” in people’s hearts and softening them to receive the engrafted Word of God”, which is Jesus, (who is the Word) “would change their hearts and lives forever.” 1 When I read that, the Holy Spirit quickened that this is what needs to happen with race relations today. Those historically known to oppress must first go through transition or the process of repentance which means they must first acknowledge that racism is a problem; whether they personally contributed to it, or not. Acknowledge and admit that white privilege is a real thing and that systemic racism does exist. Without that first step of repentance, the tearing up of the hardness of their hearts, it won’t be possible to experience real change. Because there’s one thing that everyone, regardless of ethnicity can agree upon, and that’s in order to solve any problem, one must first acknowledge that one exists.
Acknowledging Systemic Racism
As a woman of color, I wondered what exactly does acknowledging systemic racism mean? To white people, it would mean giving up the superior comforts they’ve enjoyed for years. For someone white to acknowledge they’ve benefitted from a system, which includes commerce, housing, and hiring, to name a few, would mean they would no longer be able to enjoy the advantages that come from being white. They probably feel threatened because the comforts of that system are quickly deteriorating, and to some, it’s scary. To have your entire way of life demolished has to be alarming. To think that you will now have to answer, be subject, and submit to the people that your ancestor’s enslaved, has to be frightening. But where do you go with that?
Where Do White People Go
As a white person, what do I do with that? Even if I’m not a supremist. Even if I’m not racist. Even if I love and adore Black people. What do I do with the fact that my way of life; the comforts and privilege I so enjoy, are coming to an end? What do I do with that? Not only that, but the fact that it’s being televised, for all to see, what am I expected to do? When the very fiber of my country and the founding fathers, who designed the very institutions on which I can stand, whose names and statues are being torn down, what am I to do? When those I once held as moral champions are being exposed publicly? What am I to do with that? When my religion and faith is being called into question because of their spiritual defects, what am I to do with that? Especially, when those who’ve been historically marginalized and disenfranchised are in my face, protesting? Not only are they in my face, but they’re in my community, recording how others who look like me, have mistreated and disrespected them? What do you want me to do with that? I don’t even have the liberty to say what I used to be able to say because it’s now misconstrued, at least in my mind, as racist. I mean the very core of who I am is in question and is at stake, all because…Black Lives Matter now.
The Other Side of the Period
The period at the end of that statement VERY LOUD. The period at the end of that statement is what you’re seeing in the streets. The period at the end of that statement is what’s really at stake because on the other side of that period leads to another question which will inevitably lead to a life-changing decision. One of the questions is, “Black lives matter to who?”, which will lead to a decision to continue on the path of indifference or resistance of which leads to unrepentance. The other question is, “But why haven’t Black lives always mattered?”, which will then lead to a slow but steady road to repentance. Why? Because the mere questioning of why they haven’t is an indication of forward movement. For a white person to make an internal inquiry as to “Why Black lives haven’t mattered?”, or “Why Black people feel as if their lives haven’t mattered?”, shows both compassion and empathy. How so?
What Carrying a Black Lives Matter Cross Looks Like
In order for a white person to get to the point where they look within themselves and ask why their Black brothers and sisters in Christ feel as if their very existence doesn’t matter would require them to become a living epistle; much like the Lord they so vehemently serve. They’d have to go beyond WWJD, ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ and into WDJD, ‘What Did Jesus Do?’ To do so would require them to lay down their lives, pick up their cross and walk before their respective communities, and say, “I believe Black Lives Matter!” It would require more than posts and protesting and into a lifestyle change. So much so, that they’re willing to lay down the comforts of privilege, to prove it.
To some, this may sound as if they’d have to sell everything like the rich young ruler, but that’s not the case. They’d only have to liquidate and lose their way of living. Jesus said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.’ (Mt. 10:37-39) What this means is that white people would have to consider if they love the opinion and tradition of those closest, more than they love Black lives. This means they’d have to lose the comforts of acceptance, and dare I say, the protections their white skin affords for the sake of Black lives. Which to most, is too much to ask; simply because they don’t see Jesus within those lives.
Some whites don’t see the eagerness of Jesus to quickly share a water cocktail with a Samaritan woman; someone viewed by the Jews as ritually unclean. They don’t see the willingness of the Lord to heal the Syro-Phoenician’s daughter; whom His people often referred to as dogs. They don’t know that Jesus often hung with those considered less than. Because if they really KNEW Jesus, then they’d know that they’d have to do what Jesus did and endure the same scrutiny. They too would have to be referred to as one who eats with, “tax collectors”, “sinners” (Mt. 9:11), or niggers. They’d have to be criticized and often endure such disparaging names as, “glutton”, “winebibber” (Mt. 11:19), or nigger-lover. And the time would most certainly come when their very lives would be threatened. When those, who look like them, would come to their home, kiss them on cheek, (Mt. 26:48, 49) only to signal to supremist mobs to do as they deem fit.
Cross Carrying in Real-Time
Yes, this is what carrying the cross of Jesus looks like in 2020. But are our white brothers and sisters in Christ willing to carry theirs…for us? Because that’s what it means. It means hiring those wrongfully or extensively incarcerated. It means promoting those who work twice as hard as their white counterparts. It means doing business with Black businesses. It means making exceptions to credit requirements. It means welcoming Black speakers and authors onto your platforms as you quietly listen to how they see you. It means stop changing the rules mid-game. It also means watching people of color play and profit from the game your forefathers designed; all while cheering from the sideline. It means reallocating police budgets into the community of which those officers do not live yet swore to protect. It means seeing and treating a young, Black man the same way you would as an old, white woman. Yep, this is what carrying the cross of Jesus looks like in the 21st century, but are you ready for that? If not…
Pray this with me: Heavenly Father, I don’t know what I’m supposed to think. As a white person, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with all this, and even more importantly, where to start. But I’ll start with this: Please forgive me for turning a blind's eye and heart to systemic racism. Please forgive me for being complicit and explicitly taking advantage of the privilege I hold so dear. And please Lord, help me to see people as You see them Lord, by their heart and, more importantly, by their spirit. In Jesus’ name.
Copyright 2020 © Real Issues Publishing®. All rights reserved.
SOURCE - 1 - Bill Winston. ‘The Kingdom of God in You: Discover The Greatness of God’s Power Within’. Harrison House. Tulsa, Oklahoma. 2006.