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Racial Reconciliation on an Interpersonal Level Racial Reconciliation on an Interpersonal Level

What the Bible Says About Systemic Racial Reconciliation

In today’s post, LaShondra Riddle concludes her series this week on racial reconciliation.   “Do good. Seek justice. Correct oppression. Take up the cause of the fatherless. Plead the case of the widow.” – Isaiah 1:17 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice f…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Racial Reconciliation on an Interpersonal Level

In today’s post, LaShondra Riddle concludes her series this week on racial reconciliation.

 

“Do good. Seek justice. Correct oppression. Take up the cause of the fatherless. Plead the case of the widow.” – Isaiah 1:17

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice. – Proverbs 31:8-9

“Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? – Isaiah 58:6

“For I, the LORD, love justice.” – Isaiah 61:8

“The heavens proclaim his righteousness, for he is a God of justice. – Psalm 50:6

 

I cannot get away from the God of Justice.

No matter what page or book of the bible I turn to, He is there.

If I camp out in Leviticus and the Old Testament law, He is there.

If I scroll through the prophets, He is there.

If I try to hide out in the gospels and the letters of the apostles, He is there.

All throughout scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, the God of Justice is present and He is forever calling His people to carry out justice in the earth.

Over the last few weeks, I, along with so many others, have wrestled with what our response should be as followers of Jesus during this time.

Some have said that it is our place to pray. That God is the only One who can change the hearts of men and fix what is happening in America. Some have argued that the church has been silent long enough and it is now time to act.

I personally believe both are true. James puts it this way:

“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” – James 2:14-17

In the same way, if your black brothers and sisters are crying out to:

1. Not be racially profiled by police,

2. Not be murdered in the streets, but be allowed due process and equal protection under the law, and

3. Not be given sentences that far exceed the crime or that are much harsher than ones given to white people for the same,

Then not only is it unbiblical to tell them “I’ll be praying for you. Have a good day and be safe,” but it is also cruel if you have the means to actually help meet their physical needs.

To this end, some will argue that changed laws do not equal changed hearts, and I absolutely agree, but changed laws help save actual lives.

Traffic Laws help keep people safe and save lives everyday.

Food and Drug Administration Laws help keep people safe and save lives everyday.

In order for white women to have the right to vote, a law had to be written into legislation.

In order for interracial marriage to be deemed legal, a law had to be written into legislation.

In order for an entire people group to be set free from slavery, a law had to be written into legislation

Laws not only help shape the society we live in. but they have a huge impact on the lives of individuals living in that society.

If we are to reflect the Son, who is the very radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of the Father, then we must be people who seek justice on behalf of the oppressed. And part of that looks like taking up the cause of black people in America who are being systemically oppressed and discriminated against.

Therefore, if you have yet to back up your faith with action in the dismantling of systemic racism and injustice in our society, I would like to personally invite you to do so. Won’t you join us?

Comments (9)

  • Hi Brian! First, thank you so much for your comments. I truly appreciate them and you taking the time to respond and provide honest feedback. I will do my part in bringing it before the Lord.

    One of my primary prayers during this season has been for God to give me eyes to see and ears to hear what He is saying and doing, so that I do not get swept up in the swirl of everything happening right now. I know there is much happening in the spirit realm that we cannot see and I’m hypersensitive to the fact that there is a way that seems right to man that leads to death. Truth truly is the only solid ground for us to stand on.

    In light of that, I ask that you would pray for me as I continue to seek the Lord and His truth during this current crisis as well as other crises that may arise in the coming days because I’ll be the first to say, I do not have all the answers. I am still learning and processing and trying my best to take everything I hear and see and examine it as it applies to Jesus and the Bible. I have a long way to go in this. I know that.

    In full transparency: my views on many different things have shifted time and time again throughout the years as I learn more and as I grow in Jesus. And without a doubt, they will shift again. I think life is a process of learning and unlearning things as we go.

    If you don’t mind, I would like to share where I am, as of right now, in my thinking and processing with the Lord, because what I’ve shared in the past week on this blog is not the full scope of everything I believe and everything I am still thinking through.

  • I am familiar with Critical Race Theory, although admittedly, I haven’t done a ton of research into it. I have, however, studied intersectionality in depth, because I was required to take a “Power, Privilege, and Oppression” course during my first year of grad school.

    And this is where I have personally landed on it: I believe systemic racism is real, in that, when slavery was aboloshed in the U.S., many policies were introduced written into local and state law in an effort to 1. Keep black people separate from white people and 2. Keep black people subordinate. These new laws (i.e. segregation, jim crow, etc.) were rooted in racist ideologies and worked to shape American Society.

    And though many of the earlier laws have been overturned, others have been written in their place with the same goal and/or end result (e.g. Redlining). In this way, I believe that there are still governmental systems and policies in place operating in our society that are inherently racist…or at the very least, create an inorganic gap between black people’s status in America, in comparison to that of white people.

    Have a lot of black people been able to rise above, thrive, and find success in spite of these systems? Absolutely! But have a ton of black people struggled and ultimately failed under the weight of racist systems? No doubt!

    In terms of intersectionality, before I ever had language for it, “lived experience” taught me that intersectionality is real. It is almost impossible to tease apart the many identities we have and how they play into and off of one another.

    That said, I have been black for 31 years and undoubtedly, it has played a major role in many of my experiences in this life, but if I’m being completely honest, in no way has my racial identity been the primary source of my grief and suffering in the earth. And in no way, is race my most salient identity. In fact, when I step outside my house, I am more conscious of the fact that I am a woman more than I am conscious of the fact that I black, simply because the majority of my trauma has come as a result of being a woman. And for most of my life, my race has, more often than not, taken a back seat to my gender, when I contemplate my experiences in the world.

    And BOTH of those identities take a back seat to my identity in Christ. I feel more Christian than I do black or female or American or any other cultural identity. And it is my identity in Christ that has guided me and helped me navigate the storms of life, like the one we are currently in.

    I know that I know that I know that Jesus cares about the many identities we have as citizens of the earth and how they affect us and the unjust things we suffer as a result of them, BUT I also know that by no means are we allowed to elevate those identities above our identity in Christ. I am so hyper aware that every identity we have must come under the leadership and headship of Christ where he has the ultimate authority.

    I know that if I allow my racial identity as a black person and the things I have suffered as a result of it to take precedent and I use it to justify me walking in direct contradiction to His word, then I am in sin and disobedience and I need to repent. The same goes for my identity as a woman and every other identity that exists. I have had to lay many things at the cross of Jesus and leave them there and trust that He will judge rightly because only He can.

    I began this blog series talking about how I’ve come to know and love Jesus as Judge and I promise you, He is where my hope is. When Jesus returns, He is coming to judge the whole earth and completely eradicate and wipe out wickedness and oppressive systems, and establish His rule and reign..

    And until that day comes, I honestly believe that He is less concerned about oppressive systems on this side of eternity than He is about the hearts of men and how we choose to live and walk out our salvation in the midst of racist systems, oppressive regimes, and wicked kings.

    That being said, I can’t get away from the plight of the Jewish people as a result of antisemitism.

    In the book of Esther, when Haman,a government official, set out to kill every Jewish person in the nation, Esther appealed to the highest court in the land (the King), on behalf of an entire ethnic people group and in doing so, not only saved her life, but the life of every Jew alive in that present time.

    Fast forward to 1940, Adolf Hitler was a politician and a party leader – a politician who ordered the systematic annihilation of an entire ethnic people group. An order rooted in hatred. And I wonder how things could have been different had there been someone or a group of people fighting to change the political landscape in Germany at the time.

    Jewish history and African American history are not the same, but I, for one, am grateful to have been born into a time that is miles ahead of where black people started in American because people in generations past were willing to fight to change the political landscape of American society.

    Also, I welcome any follow-up questions and conversations, so please feel free to email me: [email protected]

  • Thank you so much for writing this.
    Over the last few weeks, I too, have wrestled with what MY response should be as a follower of Jesus. I have been praying nonstop. But you sharing James 2:14-17 made me realize. That yes I can pray But I NEED to also act. Compassion is action.

  • Mark & Kathy Hodge

    Thanks for the well written thoughts…may they prompt us all to ask the Lord what actions He’d have us to take. I don’t think He is calling us to inaction!

  • Lashondra it was clear to us since we saw your first post on the Alumni page that you have a heart for the Lord and His truth. Truth matters. It is foundational to righteousness and righteousness to justice. They always proceed in that order. I can only imagine the pressures being exerted upon you emotionally and in the spirit right now. While the kingdom heaven suffers endless violence, conformity receives affirmation and acceptance particularly among peers. I encourage you to pay close attention and not yield to the fear of rejection or standing alone.

    I would also encourage you to learn more about Critical Race Theory, Interest Convergence, Intersectionality etc. from which terms like Systemic Racism, Cancel Culture and most contemporary “ists” and “isms” have their origins. I recommend reading the books “False Justice” by Stuart Greaves and “Woke Church” by Erich Mason.

    While the pain that inspired its founders was real, and there are some valid points, Critical Race Theory forms the underpinning for a very active and profoundly unbiblical sociopolitical movement whose goal is Deconstruction masquerading as correction. Several of its proponents and financial backers have acknowledged the church and especially millennials in the church as the primary obstacles to its advancement. While looting, burning buildings, tearing down statues, and enshrining criminals along side people like MLK is a physical manifestation of the spiritual, there is a subtle and perhaps more dangerous work of the enemy taking place in the hearts and minds of your generation in the church. This is profoundly challenging because from grade school on many if not most were taught to honor “lived experience” and individual feelings in lieu of logic and critical thinking. This is evidenced by the consistent use of “I feel” in lieu of “I think” among so many racers in conversations we’ve had with them. Personal revelation now supersedes sound biblical epistemology. This is the fault of your predecessors not yours. While the church may come closer together in the context of community as a result of the current cultural drama, I fear that it is being beheaded in it’s growing willingness to accommodate falsehood in the name of empathy. Hence the false gospel. Still there is hope. The time can be redeemed even though the days are evil. Eph 5:14-16 But that hope is probably in your generation as fewer and fewer are willing to listen to the voices in ours.

    You and everyone else at AIM will remain in our prayers.

  • Thanks, Lashondra. Likewise, I appreciate your response. I look forward to connecting with you via email as I too am learning. I would like to quickly respond here as it might add to the conversation that others may read or join. We all see as in a glass darkly but we all see better when all we see together. Everyone needs to join the discussion

    As disturbed as I am about CRT in the Church, Derrick Bell its founder, made some very valid points when he was a professor of Law at Harvard in 1958 to include a case for slavery reparations. He said, the descendants of slaves were robbed of their potential inheritance because slaves were not paid and the government reneged on its promise of “40 acres and mule” following the emancipation proclamation. I didn’t have a problem with anything he said until he proposed the idea of “interest convergence” which basically says that white people only do the right thing when it is in their best interest to do so. That’s where he lost me.

    As for “intersectionality”, the concept has some validity I terms of analyzing and describing cultural perspectives. However, its founder Kimberlee Crenshaw was a radical feminist. Its contemporary application or maybe its abuses do away with competence, monetize one’s status as a victim while also marginalizing the evil “cis-gendered, privileged, white male” whose identity does not intersect with any other. Its stated goal is the deconstruction of the “patriarchy” Yet Christianity is a patriarchy and the patriarchal biblically aligned marriage is the model of Christ’s relationship with His church. At the end of the day, it fits the definition of neo marxism in that it swaps the idea of “bourgeoisie v.s. the proletariat” for “privileged versus oppressed” while focusing on equity of outcome instead of equity of opportunity.

    I have often wondered why our sovereign God paradoxically allowed the Jews to be persecuted at times and at others be rescued. You cited Ester. Why did he fulfill His promise to Israel that they would be fruitful and multiply in Ex 1:7 only to subject them to persecution and slavery in Ex 1:8 -14? We can speculate but that’s it. We all need to respond to His will for our lives and go and do as He says. The outcome is His.

    Finally, your question regarding the Jews in Germany is particularly valid and important. Dietrich Bonhoeffer a Lutheran Pastor struggled with this very dilemma and participated in at least one assassination plot against Hitler. He was hanged before the Allied soldiers could free him. What I find interesting is that in his seminal albeit unfinished work “Ethics” he addresses the apparent absurdity of the idea of Christian Ethics since Ethics is by definition the study of good versus evil. Bonnehifer seems to have shifted his perspective when he states that it the original “knowledge of good and evil” that resulted in the Fall remains the root of our problems today. Every killer since Cain feels justified in his resentment and the murder he commits. Ironically we continue to try to solve the world’s problems with the original problem. The hard words and deeds of Jesus are our model. At the end of the day, we are faced with the question; what exactly does radical obedience look like?

    Finally, I can not fathom the evil of what Paul called “the mystery of iniquity that is already at work” 2 The 2:7 and resulted in the death of six million Jews and at least five million other undesirables. However, the Book Ordinary Men by Christopher R Browning tells me we are all inherently capable of this at our core. What I find most disturbing about the Jewish genocide especially in light of the current situation is that while the Nazis believed the Jews were inferior, the German people permitted their persecution and murder on the grounds that they were privileged.

    God bless you Lashondra. I believe yours is going to be an important voice in the ministry of reconciliation in the days ahead. [email protected]

  • I’m grateful for your sharing your heart, and I’m learning from your insights. LW, tomorrow’s a big day for me – I finish my first 7 decades and enter into my 8th. May the Lord have mercy on me and give me an tender heart, open ears, and strong hands to continue serving by grace to His glory. You are right on. Our fight is not against flesh and blood but it certainly involves our flesh and blood. Sin both is grievous to the recipient and clear rebellion against our Lord Himself. We must not conceal or deny it. Praying for you, dear LaShondra.

  • Let me be the first to wish you happy birthday, Brian! You are still going strong and setting a great example for the rest of us!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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