awareness that seems to have taken hold in the United States. It’s easy to want to settle back into colorblindness or complacency. But the nation’s racial challenges aren’t over—they’ve just barely begun.
It’s tempting to just ‘keep the peace’ and to move on. This drive is particularly strong in our churches where we believe if we just bury our differences they will somehow disappear. We’d often rather hide behind a veneer of harmony than do the hard work of truly overcoming our divisions. We’d rather project a polished image that belies our underlying isolation and pain than walk in the Light as examples of Christ’s capacity to redeem our brokenness.
But the Church has learned that this is a faulty strategy, one that simply avoids discomfort without forging steadfast love through trials and challenges. These past years have brought out our issues, so let’s work on them. Avoiding discomfort isn’t a healthy or effective way of forging meaningful relationship.
If we pretend like we have it all together, we’re only play-acting our roles as the abiding family of Christ. Instead, let us wrestle through our struggles together as the Body of Christ, sharing God’s light as we live into our salvation.
To forge a new future, we must rest in the tensions of the moment while remaining diligent in the work that lies ahead. Thus, as we look to the new year, we must:
Church must be engaged in the ongoing work of racial justice and reconciliation, whether or not it’s in the headlines. The conversations must be happening from the pulpits and at our dinner tables throughout the year. Just as we serve a cross-cultural God and read a multicultural Gospel, we must infuse a culture of radical inclusivity into our congregational habits. The foundations of mutual trust and understanding, must be established and well maintained. Because when the national crisis comes, it’s already too late.
As we in the Church learn to abide with one another within our walls, we must proclaim our message of redemption to the world. We must call on our neighbors and our leaders to enact the changes necessary for a lasting transformation in our communities. Rather than crafting carefully worded public statements about peace and unity in times of crisis, we can speak prophetically about God’s call to justice and reconciliation. We can make ourselves heard to our politicians, to our neighbors, and to our families, and in doing so bear witness to the profound effect of Christ in our lives.
For the Church to be a beacon of hope in a broken world, we must constantly be the voice of justice for the oppressed. We cannot take up the cause only when it is trendy, or when there is social pressure to speak out. When the world sees hearts that are steadfast in their commitment to God’s people, it sends a message of God’s enduring love and of a Gospel with the power to restore all things.
The Church has the potential to embody God’s great Reconciliation if we will only step out from our instinct of self-preservation and our pretense of having it all figured out. It’s tempting to pretend that there are no divisions. It’s tempting to revert to old habits. It is tempting to sit back and wait for the next headline. But the Church cannot afford to do that.
Stay consistent. Stay vocal. Stay proactive.