I am a question asker. Most of the time I have more questions than I have answers. By design I’m an advocate and a natural empathizer. I’m intuitive and just know things even when I don’t know how I know them.
Perhaps that’s where the question asking comes in. I know something but the facts and information I have doesn’t align, so I ask questions to discover and test what I’ve come to call my “theories.”
I have a lot of theories. And I have a lot of questions. The state of our nations over the last few years has left me with much to ponder and a lot of unanswered questions.
“How can God let all this happen?”
I’ve heard that asked a lot in the last weeks and months, and that is not what I’m asking to tell you the truth. I think I understand why there is such turmoil and division, and it has nothing to do with the issues we debate and everything to do with the One to whom all belongs.
All the glory.
All the honor.
All the worship.
And yet the issues are real. They are in front of us. And they do need to be talked about, discussed, and wrestled with.
I was raised in the south.
I was raised where the confederate flag flew more than the American flag, and racism was just part of life. “The tracks” divided my town, and I learned at a young age that I’m white and I’m different.
And yes, I even learned that I am better.
I watched as children were shunned for the choices of their parents who went against the societal norms and married someone of a different race. Or worse, just slept with them and had babies.
I listened as words like … I can’t say it … the “N word” was thrown around and slapped on my classmates like a label – a nasty label. I was told there was a difference between even those of color, and some just are the “N word” and I needed to just accept that as a fact.
It was ignorant.
Completely and totally unacceptable.
Racism is real. It does happen. And it is still happening – even if you’ve never personally witnessed it where you are.
Because the ideas of those around me never set well with me, and because I never engaged in the conversations in the affirmative, I never considered myself racist. And comparably, I’m not.
However, the ideas were still being planted, the belief system was still being woven into the fabric of who I am, and compared to Christ Jesus, I am racist. I don’t see people the way He sees them. Very few of us probably do.
Since handing over the reigns of my life to Christ, my Blessed Savior, I have been doing the hard, humbling work of un-layering and confessing my sins before the Lord. There has been a lot of unlearning taking place.
But here’s the thing. I spent upwards of twenty years of my life not taking every thought captive to obey Christ. Not testing the words of others against God’s Holy Scripture. Not considering for a moment that I was not more significant than another.
I spent many years just trying to be a good person. Trying to cover up my brokenness. Cover up my mistakes. Cover up my inadequacies. Not realizing, or at least not accepting, that Christ paid it all. Every bit of it. I need not work to earn my righteousness or retain my righteousness. I need not work for others’ approval or to hide my unworthiness.
But now, oh but now, I see what I did not see. I hear what I did not hear. I understand what I did not understand. Not because I finally started listening, but because He started speaking deep into my soul. For by grace I am saved through faith in Jesus Christ. Christ began a good work in me that He promises to bring to fruition when He returns.
The gospel is for my every days not just my yesterdays.
I’m still being made new. Still learning what His word says. Still seeking His face and studying His word by the power of the Holy Spirit within me. With each passing day I’m learning more and more that I do not know what I ought to pray for and that I am completely and utterly reliant upon the Spirit of Christ living in me to do the bidding that I am incapable of. To be the perfect that I am not.
This is my person. This is who I am. This is where I am. A sinner saved by the grace of God. One of the most wretched people I know walking in the redeeming grace of a wonderful Savior and being sanctified daily. It is through Christ that I am given strength. It is through Christ that I am able to live and love for His glory. It is through Christ that I am able to see that we are all created in His image, worthy of love not because of who we are but because of who He is and what He has done.
How I grew up is not pretty and it’s not easy to overcome.
It is a layering process, one that takes time, and I’m still learning. The lies of Satan run deep, and unraveling the lies are not easy.
But through the powerful work of Christ, I am learning to think right thoughts about my brothers and sisters of every nation and tongue. I am praying that God will cast out any wayward belief in me, anything in me that is not of Him, and it’s a raw, vulnerable work.
Racism and hate has taken so many new faces that we can’t even rightly see ourselves anymore.
We are a divided people, and not so much by the other side, but by our own inability to see ourselves rightly before a living and holy God.
Oh, but for grace to say, we are with Him and we will be with Him forever more if we confess our sins and repent from all unrighteousness and believe in Jesus Christ as Savior.
Oh, but for grace to lock arms, to lean in, to give space for those not like us, who grew up steeped in racism (of all kinds, from both sides).
Oh, but for grace, to bear humbly with one another. Being kind and tenderhearted, forgiving one another as Christ has forgiven us.
Oh, but for grace, to ask good questions, to get prayerful answers from believers steeped wholly in scripture.
Oh, but for grace, to admit together that we are a broken people incapable of ever fully understanding the mysteries of Christ this side of heaven.
Oh, but for grace, to be okay with not understanding fully and repenting for making these days about us and about our issues.
Oh, but for grace, to share not the opinions of man, but speaking the truth in love, not graying what God never meant to be gray.
Fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Can we bow together and cry out to Jesus the Author and Perfector of our faith?
Can we confess together that we put way too much stock and faith in our government to right the wrongs only Christ can heal?
Can we confess together that we give into fear more than we walk without fainting? That we let our emotions have their way with us?
I want to profess alongside you that our message is Christ eternal.
Our message is “repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).
Our message is to “go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, He is with us always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
I want to link arms and say together that our message is love, but not a newly defined meaning of love, but sacrificial love. Love that isn’t about making us happy but about lifting the name of Jesus. Love that is patient and kind. Love that lays down its own rights, its own desires, its own … self and chooses to trust Jesus with all things, walking humbly alongside one another. Love that is not irritable or resentful. Love that accepts that we see in a mirror dimly right now, but one day, oh that blessed day, we.will.see.fully!
I want to make less of our issues and more of Him and let Him come in and do the work of ministry in our hearts, in our lives, in our government, in our homes, and in our nation.
I want to link arms with you and say, I’m sorry Lord for the thing I’ve made it. I’m sorry for being lukewarm in my affections for You. I’m sorry for my arrogance and pride. I’m sorry for my ignorance, and the choice to stay ignorant.
The issues are real.
They are in front of us, fellow Christians, and these issues do need to be talked about, discussed, and wrestled with. But not apart from the gospel. We need to talk for the sake of the gospel. For the sake of Jesus Christ. We need to talk because we all come from very different walks of life, and we need each other to help shed light on our personal prejudices in order that we might be unified in Him.
But perhaps before we talk, we hush. We choose space, the space needed to quiet our hearts in Christ, to hide away under His wings, and come out when we’re good and ready to talk with grace, and in faith, because we know that it is Jesus who has, who is, and who will fight for us as we walk in His way, doing things according to His word, and trusting that He reigns now and forever more.
In the Name of Jesus Christ I pray,