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MAKING PEACE

It would be hard for me to overestimate the blessing reconciliation has been to me in my life. Of course reconciliation with God, but I speak here specifically of how God first theologically made reconciliation possible between people groups, and then through the activity of His Holy Spirit made it possible in my life across racial and ethnic lines. I blame God for both of those things as a way of giving him praise. This is one sweet doctrine, one sweet fulfillment of the will of God. If you know me you might be thinking, “oh, he’s just happy he is married to Joan (who is an African American).” Well, yes that is true, but I had black male friends, and Puerto-Rican friends, before I ever met Joan. Not only do I have friends (and this must be one of my greatest treasures), but I have had encounters with ethnic culture that have added so much richness to my life. I’ve learned not to be afraid of difference, I’ve learned all kinds of music, and I learned to dance (that’s my opinion about what I do at weddings). I’ve learned loyalty in ways I could never imagine, laughter and joy, and perspective on things that would never have come naturally to me. Along the way I learned ideas about justice, about compassion, about endurance and faith during suffering and oppression, about forgiveness that I would never have learned in my own racial and ethnic world. I learned things about myself, about being white, about my own culture and history that I heard and read from insights outside of my own group. This has given me greater clarity in what is Biblical versus what is cultural. I have learned better ways of preaching and communicating. I say these things because there is always something bubbling in racial news in our country. I probably could write this and make it applicable in any one of a hundred news events over the last several years. Right now we are hearing about the Los Angeles Clippers and their owner and his “alleged” racial remarks.” I just have a couple of comments most of which are generic when it comes to this kind of thing. 1. Learn to listen to the pain people express even when others might attempt to minimize the importance of the event. 2. If you don’t understand why people are so upset about something, ask them, and think about it before you start giving them immediate counter arguments. Your verbal processing just may be pissing everyone off. 3. Try not to let the reality and continued existence of racism and racist feelings surprise you, it is a constant of sinful humanity. 4. Don’t ever be complacent about it and understand that racist attitudes left uncontested create a future bill that must be paid. 5. Don’t think racism is the unforgivable sin, whether you despise it in others, or see it in yourself. Sin can be repented of, and forgiven. 6. The sin of hatred, despising the image of God in other human beings, and not loving others as your self, as your neighbor, are sins that make up the sin of racism; along with the idolatry of ethnocentrism. 7. Making friends and peace across racial, ethnic, and cultural boundaries doesn’t usually just happen. Reconciliation needs to be intentionally and purposefully pursued, and it is not something you do once in your life and mark it off your list. 8. Whining about the reaction that minorities have to their feelings of insult when racism is exposed in the marketplace, even in the garb of political commentary, offer nothing in creating peace and reconciliation. Stop whining. 9. We have a right to differ in strategies to change things; some of us have the wisdom and courage to know when and how to take direct action. Others of us have the ability to listen, speak, and negotiate/navigate our way to change. We should be cautious in a quick condemnation of someone’s strategy, unless it is obviously sinful. 10. Sinful reactions to someone else’s sinful words and behavior doesn’t help any of us very much. Sometimes, for some of us, our greatest wisdom is in keeping our mouth shut and not adding to the problem. 11. Compassion for the racist seems undeserved, and it is, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if the grace you and I need so desperately, and which saved us, could be extended to help the racist repent and become a friend? 12. Spending more time in prayer for our country, and about events that boil our blood, is time better spent than in absorbing, spreading, and inflating the distractions on social networking and the internet.

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