So, what are you gonna do? You may have come to the conclusion that it’s a black and white issue of oppression, white privilege, and therefore racism. However, some may think that even though racism exists in this country, in your place and space in life you don’t encounter racism or practice racism. You love all people, no matter their color or ethnic origin, economic status or where they live, or gender preference, or so you think because in part, you do not encounter the other. And so when you hear or see acts of injustice, it becomes in your mind someone else’s issue or problem. It’s the government, institutions, war lords, and big corporations who perform these matters of oppression – we call them powers and principalities. And so we completely remove ourselves from association with issues that are black and white and keep our distance. We like it that way. It’s safe and we’re comfortable being in our comfort zone with all the comforts of life, friends who are the same as us in terms of color, economic status, and opportunity. And let’s not forget the same church! Racism we want to believe, is found in those neighborhoods that are sub par. Not like ours.
So I once heard years ago that to do nothing in defense of justice for the oppressed is in and of itself an act of racism. What – me a racist? I just want to stay out of the way! Not rock any boat, not encounter the other, then maybe I wouldn’t have to face up to the reality of injustice cause by racism. But Jesus calls us to be something else; to be a prophetic voice of one who dares to get involved – one who dares to say this is my problem too and the solution starts with me.
I’m working on a project on racism and we defined our affirmation statement in this way: Naming the sin has the power to transform our spirit for the sake of shalom. So I begin from a place of confession for my known and unknown sins of racism. Forgiveness then frees me up to proclaim the good news of salvation for the broken and oppressed. To be prophetic! And the transformation of our hearts gives us to power to share God’s peace – shalom – with those who need to be freed from the oppressions that I have helped enforce – known and unknown.
In Revelation 21 we hear of a new heaven and a new earth. That’s what God promises us and calls us to profess. The question which Father Pflager from St. Sabina posed then remains: Am I willing or able to be so faithful to Jesus, or is my desire to be accepted and liked? He said indeed, “To profess the Gospel of Jesus Christ is costly. At the end of the day, though, it’s Jesus that I need to stand next to.” Or more simply stated is a sign hanging in the back of the church on the way out the doors: Discipleship will cost. Are you willing?
Tomorrow: Who’s at the table?