This weekend, we saw the latest string in public protests from White Supremisists and Neo-Natzis- this time in Charlottesville, VA, the home of the University of Virginia. One counter-protestor died and several more were injured when a White Supremisists crashed his car into a crowd of peaceful counter protestors.
In addition, "alt-right" groups have been posting blatantly racist posters around college campuses around the country, targeting and even directly harassing Black Student Unions, Jewish student groups and Muslim organizations.
Racism is real. Racism is still a problem in our country. And racism is a sin that grieves the heart of God. As Beth Moore, Christian author and speaker, tweeted:
We cannot renounce what we will not name. It's called White Supremacy. And it is from hell. Call it. Condemn it. — Beth Moore (@BethMooreLPM)
God did not create the world to be this way. In this week's devotional, we're going to take a look at the book of Revelation. In this passage, the apostle John shares a vision of God's restored and whole Kingdom.
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
- Read the passage again. Imagine that you are there. What do you hear and see aroudn you? Look to your right, who is next to you? Look to your left, what do you notice about that person?
- What do you notice about what the people & angels proclaim about God? How do they describe God?
- As you think about this vision of God's Kingdom, what thoughts arise? Perhaps you feel bitter, jaded and hopeless- could this really happen? Or maybe you feel comforted and excited? Bring all of those thoughts and feelings to God. Talk to him about them.
- God's Kingdom is often described as "now and not yet"- the fullness and perfection will come when God restores everything for good. But as followers of Jesus, we are called to be agents of his Kingom in the here and now. How might God be calling you to be part of his multiethic, multilingual, multicultural Kingdom today?
How did you respond when you heard the news from Charlottesville? For my friends of color, this was extremely painful yet sadly familiar. A black student said, "I'm just tired. I'm scared and heartbroken. I'm tired of feeling this way."
For my white friends, many were in disbelief- how could this happen in our day & age? Some were outspoken advocates. But many were silent, either because they had no clue this even happened- I don't watch the news it's too depressing- or because geographically, it didn't seem to affect them. The events in Charlottesville were somewhere else happening to someone else.
But it does a great disservice to God's Kingdom vision to ignore or minimize the events that happened in Charlottesville. Lies about the superiority/inferiority of cultural and ethnic groups have permeatted our culture since the beginning of time. Divisions between races and reglious groups have fueled countless acts of violence and injustice. We have made our world into a place that is constantly "us against them", valuing self-preservation over communal flourishing.
This is not God's way. God makes it clear that he created us- our languages, our cultures, our skin tones- in his image. To claim that a race or culture is inferior is to wage war against the very image of God. To be part of God's Kingdom means that we are people who stand against anyone who tries to destroy the image of God through White Supermacy, calling out the sin and inviting them into repentance. It also means that we humbly examine our own hearts, rigorously searching for any racism that might be lurking within us.
Here are some ways that you can engage this week:
Read & reread the coverage from the Charlottesville protests & counterprotests. Read them asking Jesus what he wants you to hear and learn.
White Nationalists March on University of Virginia, NY Times
White Nationalist Rally Turns Fatal, The Daily Progress
As a way to continue engaging in issues of race & ethnicity, consider reading one or two of these books:
Disunity in Christ, by Christena Cleveland
Beyond Colorblind: Redeeming our Ethnic Journey, by Sarah Shin
The Heart of Racial Justice, by Brenda Salter-McNeil & Rick Richardson
Carve out time to specifically pray about the rising visibility of White Supremacy and the racist incidents happening on our campuses. Ask God to examine your heart and expose hidden prejudices that need to be confessed & repented of. For my friends who have been engaging tirelessly with the racism around them, take care of yourself, and rest. For my friends of color, God sees your hurt and pain, he is weeping with you- spend time resting in God's presence and receiving his deep love and compassion for you.
Here is a written prayer to guide you:
A Congregational Prayer for Churches After Charlottesville
Commit to engaging with these issues. It's too easy for us white people to "tap out" but our friends of color don't ever have that option. Keep pressing in, keep bringing your difficult emotions and thoughts to God. Ask your InterVarsity staff worker what it looks like to keep engaging.