Why do we fear talking about racial reconciliation? For the most part, we fear things because they are unknown or foreign to us. Other times we fear things because we feel threatened.
In the context of racial reconciliation, we sometimes fear to act because we fear judgment from peers or family. However, 2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Love and self-control are fruits of the spirit and are an example set for us by Jesus. As Christians, we must follow Jesus’ example through every aspect of our lives. This is especially important when talking about race with people who have different perspectives. Why? Because we are called to love our neighbors and love is a sacrifice (Matt 22:39).
We must humble ourselves to have these kinds of conversations, which can be a fearful thing. Deconstructing our prejudices, aka pre-judgments, about other people can be a slow process if we do not step down from our pride and submit to the Lord. As believers, we must make ourselves available to the Holy Spirit and be willing to make ourselves vulnerable.
Jesus set an example for us on how to be intentional about relationships. When we study the life of Jesus in the New Testament we see that he was able to cross lines of cultural, social, political, economic, and gender divides. In John 4:1-12, Jesus asks a Samaritan woman for some water. For context, this may not seem like a big deal today, but Samaritans and Jews didn’t associate with each other during this time. In verse 10, Jesus said, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” The woman at the well did not let prejudice hinder her from serving the Lord. Jesus was intentional about not allowing prejudice to hinder this interaction. Jesus came to the well eager to receive from the Samaritan.
Sometimes, when having conversations about racial reconciliation or related topics, our positions can immediately be defensive. We can be quick to defend our positions, opinions, political ideologies, etc. instead of understanding another perspective. Proverbs 18:2 says “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” Deconstructing pride and prejudices can seem fearful, but the Lord can renew our minds (Romans 12:2).
The enemy seeks to divide us and distract us from coming to resolutions about unity as the body of Christ. One way we can deconstruct our pride, prejudices, and ultimately our fears, is by being slow to speak and eager to listen. Scripture says “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” (James 1:19).
When it comes to conversations about racial reconciliation, unfounded fear can hinder us from meaningful relationships. Racism is a sin, and it is running rampant in our country. The consequences of this sin have always been around but recently they have been brought to light more frequently. As Christians, we are in the world but not of it. Consequently, we must be salt and light in a world of darkness. Do not fear, because the Lord has a perfect eternal plan. Until then, follow Christ’s example and don’t follow your prejudices. Treat others with the dignity they deserve as image-bearers. Love God and love others.