Editor’s note: If you’ve ever visited our Staff page, you’ll know that Lanie is pursuing a Master’s in Christian apologetics at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She also writes and edits for Be the Bridge, a nonprofit that provides resources for Christians pursuing racial unity in their churches and communities.
This series was first published exclusively via the Faithfully Magazine newsletter. Each of the six parts, in addition to the introduction, were made available on faithfullymagazine.com and appear as they did in the newsletter, unless specifically noted. Jump to the bottom to access other parts of this series.
I remember one of the first instances in which God confronted my prejudice against a group of people.
For about a year, a Black sister in Christ walked closely with me as she introduced me to racial disparities in our world, nation and churches. Although my education was certainly not her responsibility, she has a heart for racial reconciliation within the church, and I had a desire to learn.
During this season, I remember walking at night to my car from campus where I was a campus minister. Three young Black men were in the parking lot, and two of them wore hoodies.
My heart quickened.
“God, what is happening? Is this… fear?”
God confronted my fear of the “other” that night. I realized I had learned somewhere along the way the racial stereotype that Black men in hoodies should provoke fear.
I remember getting into my car and literally taking that thought to God in prayer.
“God, why did fear just rise to the surface of my heart because of hoodies? This fear is not from You.”
It was as if, with both hands, I took the thought from my mind and held it in my palm—held it, inspected it, overturned it and lifted it toward the Light.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:4, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
God forced me that evening to take captive my sinful tendency of fear toward the “other” and hold it up to the light of His word, which says that all people are made in God’s image.
Yes, I had learned a lot about racial disparities and reconciliation over the past 12 months. We might have a lot of head knowledge or “wokeness,” if you will, but our knowledge is fruitless until we confront our own sins of racism, prejudice and bias.
This process of taking thoughts captive never stops for the Christian. It is already a part of our sinful human nature to “other-ize” people, and we live in a racialized society that adds fuel to that flame. But God calls His children to a higher standard.
God’s vision of reconciliation for people—both to Himself and to one anothercontinues to fall fresh on my heart.
A couple of weeks ago I read these words of Jesus: “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11).
As of late, I am clinging to this vision of a table set in heaven for those “from the east and the west” taking their places to feast. These are people, not in mere proximity, but in true community with one another.
This is a radical statement from Jesus, particularly in this verse’s context. Jesus, amazed by the faith of a Roman centurion, said in the previous verse, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith [as this centurion’s]” (Matthew 8:10). In Matthew 8:1-4, Jesus had just healed a leper before his interaction with the centurion.
Both of these men were viewed as “other” by the Jewish community. However, Jesus said they and people like them would take their seats at heaven’s feast alongside members of the House of Israel.
If people from “the east and the west will take their places at the feast” in heaven, should we not, as children of God, seek to take captive our “other-izing” thoughts–the stereotypes, racism, prejudices, biases and fears–now?
These are deep-seated tendencies in our hearts, and only the Holy Spirit can help us excavate them.
When I am surprised and then ashamed at my own tendencies toward such sins, I remember David’s prayer in Psalm 19:12: “Who can discern his errors? Acquit me from hidden faults.”
David’s prayer reminds us that we lack awareness of our own sins. Without the Holy Spirit’s help, those sins will remain uncovered.
Spend some time in prayer today asking God to bring to light any prejudices or biases that remain tucked away in your heart.
This first step of repentance is painful but necessary for us to truly obey the command of Christ to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Some questions to consider…
- Is there a fear you experience when you interact with people different from you?
- Do you perceive cultural differences with pride that your culture is “better,” rather than simply different?
- Does interracial marriage or adoption make you uncomfortable?
- Are you quick to discredit the experiences of minorities?
Share your responses with us using the hashtag #FMfieldnotes!
Field Notes on Racial Reconciliation:
- #FMFieldNotes: Introducing ‘Field Notes on Racial Reconciliation’ Series
- #FMFieldNotes 1: Confronting Our Sins of Racism, Prejudice and Bias
- #FMFieldNotes 2: Doing Our History Homework
- #FMFieldNotes 3: Listening and Learning from People of Other Ethnicities
- #FMFieldNotes 4: Embracing Racial Reconciliation as a Gospel Issue
- #FMFieldNotes 5: Resisting a False Dilemma Between Systemic Problems and Poor Choices
- #FMFieldNotes Part 6: Starting or Joining the Conversation of Race
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Photo by TriggerHappyDave