“So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” – Revelation 3:16 (NIV)
Our local church recently completed a multi-week series on race in America, just as other churches have been doing in response to recent events.
It was fine, and a great toe in the water, but rather than following it up with a deep dive into the connected forces that helped build, grow and continually maintain this sinful structure, we instead withdrew right back to regularly-scheduled programming.
I’ve said it many times before, but systemic racism is inextricably tangled up with pervasive misinformation, general distrust of the media, law enforcement hagiography, unwavering nationalism and the uncomfortable fusion of evangelical Christianity with the modern Republican party.
Gently poking one tentacle on this beast, then retreating (as a concession to white discomfort and/or concern about what an examination of these other topics might reveal) is not only insulting to our black brothers and sisters, but it’s an exercise in futility. A positive Tuesday evening midweek lesson on race is no match for a firehose of counter-programming (both online and off) every other day of the week.
We can talk about about having a “diverse” church until we’re blue in the face, but until we start confronting and discussing the many interconnected components that got us into our current mess (for fear of offending or “being political”), the church will keep attracting like-minded shepherds of the status quo, and marginalized voices will remain sidelined and reluctant to share their church with others. Can you blame them? It’s like asking a realtor to cheerfully try to sell a burning house.
These next few months are some of the most important that we’ll face in our lifetimes. This is not the time to play it down the middle, pine for a return to “normalcy” or stick fingers in our ears. Lukewarm responses are never great, but right now they’re especially deadly.
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