I was going to start this with three words: “I’m sorry, but…” So, strike that.
By now, I hope you know me. I hope you know my sincere desire not to offend, but to not let up on calling the Church to tear down walls and erase the incessant lines we keep building and drawing to keep one another at a distance. People don’t get me, and I get that. They don’t understand why we have to keep talking about these things. Words like “colorblind” and “we’re all alike on the inside” are lifted up like band-aids over severed limbs.
Last week, I was done with it. To tell you the truth, I was going to write that post and then hang up my #GoingThere mantle and call it a day. I was planning to make a prodigal son-like return to the black church and let things be what they are, and then, a young black unarmed man was shot to death in Ferguson (a place most of us never knew before, right?), his dead body left in the street—uncovered—for hours. And I heard the lament of the black community. And I saw blog posts and FB status updates and Tweets and Instagram updates and, to my eye, the demographic was skewed.
I kept waiting to hear from the predominantly white evangelical church in America. I kept waiting for someone from that community to chime in and say something—anything. Even something like, “I see what’s happening in Ferguson. I don’t understand it, but I want to. Can someone help me understand it?” One person contacted me to ask a question that sounded something like that.
But, for the most, part, days passed, and I was hearing nothing.
This is why it’s important to tear down the walls we’ve built up. Because things like Ferguson happen in a country whose history includes slavery and disenfranchisement and internment camps and displacement of people who lived here first. Things like this happen when we sweep those parts of our history under the rug without tending to them and making sure the wound has healed fully and the bones have set properly. When the Church stays content with white church and black church (and all the other churches) because it’s too hard to do it any other way, we cannot lead in times like this. We lose our credibility and our influence and our saltiness. We don’t know what to say. We’re afraid we’ll offend. We’re afraid we’ll add fuel to the fire.
When we’re more concerned with comfort and worship style and sermon length and the bottom line (I have much to say about that one) and the way we’ve always done things than we are with presenting a unified front to the world, we abdicate our God-given position and we are good for nothing but to be trampled underfoot.
The conversation about race in America and in the North American Church is a messy one. It just is. You’re not going to get out of it or through it without getting hurt or offended or offending someone. If we can just be okay with that, and do it anyway, well, that would be a good place to start.
Over here, I’m keeping a running list of FB posts and blog posts and other posts, written about Ferguson by my white brothers and sisters. If you’ve seen something that I haven’t, please click through and paste the link in the comments.