In a topic as controversial and complicated as race, Christians must agree on a central claim—racism is bad in theory and practice.
That point is uncontroversial. But there is a way to both affirm and deny that statement at the same time. It is possible, even common, to claim to oppose racism but then also oppose every effort by others to work against racism. Such an approach opposes racism only in theory, not practice.
If I claim to love my wife yet make no tangible effort to do so, others would be right to call my claim into question. Faith without works, as we know, is dead. If we claim to be for or against something, we need to put some legs on that claim and do something about it.
But wait, if I’m a white Christian, does this mean I’m not allowed to disagree with minority brothers or sisters when they talk about racism? Does this mean I have to agree about the extent to which racism still exists in our society? If we disagree about the nature of the problem, of course we’re going to disagree about solutions, right? Are you saying I’m a racist for not agreeing with every theory out there about what needs to be done to fix racism?
We want to equip believers to have conversations like these well. Scripture provides help for this. For example, “Without guidance, a people will fall, but with many counselors there is deliverance” (Proverbs 11:14). Furthermore, “The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). Christians clearly disagree, so let’s talk. Let’s talk with each other and talk with God, asking Him to give us the wisdom He’s promised (James 1:5).
You won’t have to go far to find an example of a minority brother or sister sharing his or her experience with racism and suggesting what he or she would like to see change in our country or in our churches. Those articles can be really sad, but what breaks my heart is reading the comments from white Christians. A brother or sister’s vulnerability is met with a chorus of opposition not to the racism described by the author, but to the author’s critique and proposed solutions. These comments opposing proposed solutions to racism nearly always lack one thing—a counter-proposal.
If our only contribution to conversations about racism is mere opposition to any effort to root out racism, we’re not being good conversation partners. Let us not be the ones to contribute another “Yeah, but” or “Not like that!” Instead, let us mine our hearts and minds to find ways to show greater love to minority brothers and sisters. Be a part of finding solutions instead of only tearing down others’. Together, let’s oppose racism both in theory and in practice. As we talk with others and with God about this contentious issue, let us consider together how to spur each other on to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).
- Pray that God keep His people from a critical nature that only sees problems and not solutions.
- Pray that God would grow us in the fruit of the Spirit so that we would have hard conversations more lovingly.
- Pray for the wisdom God promises for those of us who lack it.