Have you heard of a Hush Arbor? When religion grew and became an important part of slave life, slaves were forced to gather in secret secluded parts of the woods. As slaves came to know the Bible, they began to see treatment was unjust. Slave owners did not want slaves attending their own places of worship, and also prevented slaves from gathering fearing that slaves would organize against them. Thus, Hush Arbors became a place of worship and refuge.
If your eyes have been opened to the realities of racism and social injustice in this world like mine, you may be thinking…now what? I’ll be honest, I’ve run the gamut of emotion. But one thing centering me is the driving force that I know we need to act. All the “details,” may not be ironed out, but through working on ourselves, educating, and listening, we will get there.
I have been taking time to study what the Bible has to say about racism and injustice as well as listening to messages from different churches. It is important to understand where the Church stands and acknowledge there are areas the Church has been complicit in racism. Jemar Tisby, a Christian, historian, writer, and speaker does an excellent job of pointing to facts from history to outline the start of racism, slavery, where the Church came in, and what do to from here in his series available on RightNow Media called The Color of Compromise.
what does the bible say?
I am no master theologian, so I will speak to only what I have drawn from the Bible over the past few weeks. Then, outline some action steps we can all take from here. As Christians, we center our lives around the word of God. Ok, so what does the Bible say about racism and injustice? Turns out, a lot. And it also says a lot about being complicit.
I want to preface this all by noting that I grew up going to Church. My Lolo (Tagalog for Grandpa) was a pastor, I spent many summers at VBS and have continued following Christ throughout my adult life. I was taught to love my neighbor, be kind, you name it. When I say the Church or Christians have been complicit, I don’t mean one Church or person, in particular. I mean it as a broader term looking back into history and examining how these same beliefs might exist today.
As Christians, we have to deal with this complicity. We have some narratives to unlearn, and we need to pause and absorb all of this. This won’t happen overnight, and it will take some serious soul work.
If you are starting to examine your own heart and identify ways you have been complicit with racism, or did not realize your privilege, you may be feeling a sense of guilt. I have felt this and it’s often turned into shame, preventing me from speaking out against racism in the past. It is important to turn guilt into grief and grieve with our Black brothers and sisters, grieve for these transgressions committed against them. In this grief, we need to recognize the sins of the past, present, and repent.
Next, I want to speak to the idea of “What would Jesus do.”
We cannot forget Jesus was radical. Protesting, whether quietly or publicly was something Jesus did throughout the Bible. He was a radical person who was eventually beaten, arrested, and crucified on the cross because of his words and actions. It’s important to recognize Jesus was not complicit. He purposefully acted, spoke, dissented, questioned, and challenged. Jesus advocated for the poor, sacrificed and served those with less than, urged us to love humbly, and show compassion to others.
I want to point to the book of Matthew where Jesus gives the woe statements to the Pharisees. Basically, these are warnings and beckoning for repentance. The woes point to the hypocrisy and illustrate the differences between inner and outer moral states.
Christ-follower or not, we tend to put on an outer image that might not match what is really going on beneath the surface. It’s easier to portray that message, right? And surely much more comfortable than admitting we have areas where we have failed. The past few weeks I’ve really leaned into this and asked God to reveal those inner parts of me that need work.
I encourage you to read through Matthew 23. Matthew 23:23 – 32 really stuck out to me. I’ve linked a message by Pastor Eric Mason here, titled: Race, Justice, and the Church. Mason talks through this scripture and applies it to life today.
Ok, now what?
Now what? For me, I am at the stage where my guilt and knowledge has turned into conviction. I feel very called to continue my un-learning of previous bias and to continue to find ways to be a better ally to the Black community. Whether you are in a similar stage, or you are still trying to process what is going on and finding your place, I hope these suggestions for calls to action are helpful.
- The real American history
Do the work
- Read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
- Look into resources and courses from advocates like Rachel Cargle
- Research charities and foundations to donate to or get involved with. Try to do it on the local level to make an impact near you.
- Visit Black Lives Matter website to donate, learn, and get involved
- Have these conversations with your friends and family
- Become educated about all of the issues on your voting ballot
- Research ways you can put your own resources (time, money, voice) behind issues to help fight racism and injustice