Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Things you need to listen to, to understand race, white privilege, Ferguson, and the Gospel

I am not going way into the specific issues of the death of Michael Brown, but rather the cultural problems in this country that make it difficult for us to speak the same language on the same terms.
Ferguson seems a long way away from San Jose, CA... but then again it is very close to home and the privilege that comes with living in Silicon Valley.

I will give you one example. Nearly every tech company in Silicon Valley has finally had to own up to the fact that they are run and filled by mostly White and Asian men. I don't think it is conscious or intentional racism but a subconscious lack of awareness to the privileges afforded these groups in this valley. This illustrates the key disconnect for many Whites on the issue of racism and racial injustice in this country. The problem is not primarily "bad life choices" and a "ghetto culture" but blindness to privilege and opportunities available to Whites and many Asians. This is stuff that no app will fix. Its insane to me that many think these issues can be addressed with better hiring policies or that some even entertain the fact software and education will resolve it. Its chiefly a spiritual problem of pride, arrogance, and blindness to cultural privilege. The appropriate fruit of the gospel is humility regarding your advantages and embracing others different from you in Christ, not self-righteous pride in that you worked harder, made better choices, or are more talented.

For me personally, I woke up to these realities slowly but one story from a prominent ministry leader in inner-city Denver, Jeff Johnson, crystallized it for me. He recounted working with some African-American teenage boys through his ministry. These were good Christians doing good work in inner-city Denver. They were meeting at Starbucks when out of nowhere a couple of police cars pulled up, grabbed one of the kids he was working with, and aggressively arrested him. Jeff pleaded with the cops saying, "He is a good kid. You got the wrong one." This kid was calm throughout and essentially said, "This is our life." That is when Jeff realized, when the cops show up white people are relieved, but African Americans are often scared something bad is about to happen. I was never scared when the cops came to bust us while I was partying in college. My response was more of a "Dang, we got busted," and frequently felt free to joke with the cops about it in the moment! I had no fear someone was going to jail, be beaten, or get shot. (Here is a great vid basically showing the same thing: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/how-should-you-respond-to-ferguson)

For me, the most beautiful experiences in church is when I have experienced unity in Christ with diversity - culturally, racially, and economically. But these are experiences have been sadly rare, for unity in diversity is intrinsic to the gospel and it is my conviction this is our only hope.

Ephesians 2:13-16
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 

A sermon you should listen to:
Matt Chandler is a pastor in Dallas, TX and head of the Acts 29 network and I am super encouraged by the direction he is taking the previously way too "hipster white guy" Acts 29 church planting network. LISTEN to this sermon.

A brief word calling us to brotherly love in the church by Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Ethics Commission:

An article showing the social divide that makes us blind to the issues, look at the charts if nothing else:

Also, a bunch here by Leonce Crump (a black A29 guy) and others:

Online dating preferences:

Join me in weeping over our sins and the tragedy in Ferguson, and longing for the kingdom where all are one in Christ on earth as they are in heaven.

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