This has been a quieter week than many of the recent ones, but not in my head! I’ve had lots to think about and process.
The study I mantioned in Wednesday’s post continues to eat away at my mind and heart with conviction and applications. Our new study on Thursday just added to it! How much am I willing to inconvenience myself to love my neighbor? Because so many of the ways I need to love my neighbor break down to putting myself out for him or her.
Making life a little more inconvenient for me so I will have more to help my neighbor, taking some of my precious time so I can help someone learn to speak English, to read, to be tutored so they can do better in school, sitting with a shut-in so they know they are loved…or so their family member can get some time for a break. These are just a few ways I can show the love of Christ to those in my community who need it. Obviously, I can’t do all those things, but I can do something.
But I’m getting long on a topic that won’t be resolved today. You’ll be hearing more on it.
I am a human being who lives in a broken world…
Yet I have been redeemed by Jesus–transformed!
In one sense the transformation has happened,
IT IS FINISHED.
But there is also a process to this transformation as well.
GOD is renewing me from the inside out.
My brokenness is being healed by inches as my life is changed.
Completion of this process won’t be done until I am glorified in heaven.
Now, while I’m on earth, I want to belong to a group.
Where do I fit?
Which political party or agenda defines me?
What is the color of my skin?
What does that have to do with who I am as a person?
The color of my skin though truly only skin deep, defines me in the eyes of others.
To them I either belong or don’t belong to their group.
“But,” you say, “you are white!” STOP
Yes, don’t you know that I’m rich and over privileged?
I don’t care about other people and I’m prejudiced against those of different races.
And that is only the beginning of the long list of things that define me as a “white” person.
WHERE ARE THESE GENERIC PEOPLE?
There is no generic white person in existence…just as there are no generic hispanics or blacks. We’re all just human beings. Some of us work hard, some don’t. Some love Jesus, others don’t. Some are smart, others aren’t. Some are friendly and others aren’t. Some are evil, others are good. Most are somewhere on a spectrum between the two.
If we relate to each other one at a time, we will find that it is much easier to get to know each other…because we will be relating to another person, not a caricature.
Where do I belong? As a human being made in the image of GOD, I belong to the human family. As fellow image bearers, whether we are believers or not, we are to respect that image of GOD that we see in other humans, no matter how broken it is.
As a believer who is in Christ, I have His power to love people who may not be loveable. They may not be nice to me. But how they treat me is not my primary consideration.
As a believer, I am to move toward them in love, not fear. Wisdom, not foolishness.
As I have thought about the turmoil of the past few weeks, I realize that so much of our problem comes because we look on each other as a generic clump of people who are all alike within sub-groups.
That simply isn’t true!
There are rich white people and poor white people.
Lazy ones and dishonest ones too.
Extroverts and introverts.
Some work hard for everything they have.
Others don’t care and do very little to better themselves and the lives of their children.
The same can be said for each race and subgroup.
BEING FREE OF OUR PAST
We can get stuck in the past bemoaning the horrible things that happened long before we were born.
But at some point, the unforgiveness will hold us all back.
There is not a one of us who wouldn’t love to have someone say they are sorry for generational sins that were done to them. But we don’t have that power. Only GOD does.
In my lifetime, I have had people who have done wrong to me. I can’t tell you how much I just wanted them to apologize. For the most part, they never did.
When did I find freedom? When I learned to forgive. It is a mindset. A determination not to hold the past against another. To realize how much I have been forgiven by Christ…an unpayable debt! And to realize that whatever debts are owed to me are small by comparison.
It is also a miracle! Apart from Christ, forgiveness is impossible! Only those who have known His forgiveness can even begin to forgive those who have truly hurt them.
But when we start on the path to forgiveness, we find that the prisoner who has been freed wasn’t the other person, it was us! MY unforgiveness was holding ME in bondage to the person/people I wasn’t forgiving.
Hear the words, written by a forgiven slave trader who spent the rest of his years not only as a pastor, but also mentored men like Wilberforce, who was instrumental in bringing about radical change in England through politics.
Amazing Grace! –how sweet the sound–that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed!
Thro’ many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far; and grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me, His Word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.
And when this flesh and heart shall fail, and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil a life of joy and peace.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing GOD’s praise than when we’ve first begun.
by John Newton 1779
**Pardon me. I have agonized over this too long. Now my 5 minutes went on and on! I couldn’t stop. I’ve been challenged by a friend to rethink many of my responses to last week’s verdict. Grace doesn’t come naturally to this oldest child. But my years in Jamaica taught me to relate to others of different races the way I do to anyone…as humans first.
As you can see, my thoughts are still not crystal clear. This is a blog. There will be more to come. But I love how a man who started out as an evil slave trader was found by the grace of GOD. He shared it with many for years…in his pastorate in England, through his hymns, and through his kind mentoring of many.
I have not meant to offend anyone here so if I have, please let me know so I can make it right. I need your comments to help with my thinking. Please share them.