It’s easy for privileged reconcilers to think that cross-cultural journeys into oppressed territory to “make things right” will be fairly straightforward and painless. After all, many privileged reconcilers haven’t personally encountered the relentless forces of oppression and often make the grave mistake of underestimating them. But make no mistake, when privilege and oppression meet face-to-face in pursuit of reconciliation, blood will be shed.
of death, oppression stands as a formidable enemy that will continue to wage war against reconcilers who live in the “now but not yet.” Reconciliation always has a cost because even the tiniest, seemingly inconsequential acts of reconciliation between the privileged and the oppressed bear the grandiose power of the cross. And while this power ultimately defeats death, the victory comes at great cost and much bloodshed.
The pain incurred in pursuit of reconciliation is no joke because it approximates the work of the cross. If reconciliation work doesn’t bring about great pain, it’s not really reconciliation work. Case in point, the reconciling work of the cross was so violently painful that even Jesus the Great Reconciler approached it reluctantly. (‘Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”’ Matthew 26:39).
Not only is pain a powerful point of solidarity with Jesus and oppressed people, it’s also a signpost of the impending victory over oppression. The pain that reconcilers experience should be framed not only by the knowledge of Christ’s death but also by the hope of Easter morning. Pain and hopelessness don’t have the last word! Reconcilers know that Friday afternoon is inevitably followed by Sunday morning, that weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning, and that death precedes life.
Thanks to all who have read this blog series! I hope it’s been helpful. As a benediction of sorts, I leave you with this passage of hope from Romans 8:
Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
And another passage of hope from Habakkuk 2:
3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come
and will not delay
Grace and peace be yours in abundance. – Paul (and me too)