Chapter 2 – Mission Impossible?
“We are experiencing more racial and ethnic diversity—and the challenges that come with it—than any generation that has ever preceded us. In the face of this reality, we are called to work together to make this world a better place—to represent the kingdom of God on earth. We are called to more than tolerance or political correctness. We are to be the Reconciliation Generation!” (24)
The authors believe that God will use this generation (teens, twenties, thirties) to bring reconciliation. Today’s youth have grown up in a multicultural world and have seen racial hatred and terrorism. They don’t want it. Instead, they want mutual respect and understanding. They want “a way of life that honors people and relationships in true community.” (27)
This will take more than good intentions. “Racism and injustice, division and hatred are spiritual problems. They are evil.” (27)
Scripture says that God visits sins and their consequences to the third and fourth generation. “We are dealing with generational sin and bondage as a nation when it comes to racism, ethnic hatred, and violence.” (29) To fix this we must recognize the racism and injustice all around us and acknowledge that we need God to help us if we are to be successful. The authors believe that reconciliation is ultimately a spiritual process. (30)
Feeling a bit daunted? Me, too. Overcoming sin is generally a daunting process. We try and fail, try again and fail again, try and succeed only to fail again the next time. We are sinful.
Our society has become fairly adept at avoiding obviously racist comments/actions. We may even experience shame or embarrassment if we slip up. To be ashamed/embarrassed is a “normal” reaction, but the more important question is why we feel ashamed or embarrassed. Is it because we got caught doing/saying something that is inappropriate? Or, is it because we genuinely feel remorse over what we’ve said/done that caused hurt to someone else? Can we accept that we sometimes unknowingly hurt others with our comments and attitudes? Are we willing to accept that the other person’s hurt feelings are legitimate? Or, do we blow them off claiming they are oversensitive?
For me, it’s a decision to accept the hurts that people of color experience. I must accept and trust because I can never know how people of color feel. I have lived and will live my entire life as a white person, and that life comes with many, many privileges that are not always so easy for me to see.
But, there is help and hope for me, and it comes from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit not only helps me overcome my sins, but will help me recognize the sins that I still don’t see. I only need to ask.
Questions from Study Guide (184)
What does racial reconciliation mean to you?
How does the knowledge that racism is a spiritual problem inform how you attack it?
McNeil, Brenda Salter, and Rick Richardson. The Heart of Racial Justice: How Soul Change Leads to Social Change. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2009.