Here we are, weeks into what seems like an endless sea of hard and heavy conversations on racism. Honestly, I feel as though I have had ALL the conversations with ALL the people. I have felt emotionally spent and very hopeful at the same time. I have had dear friends near and far reach out to check on me. They have prayed for me, listened to me, and empathized with me. They have searched their hearts and have asked genuine questions.
I’ve thought a lot about how Jesus lived and how we’re called to live as He did. At every turn, Jesus stood up for the poor, the outcast, the oppressed, and the marginalized. He did it with love, grace, and boldness. He used truth to challenge every status quo and to change the current narrative.
In John 4, Jesus has an encounter with the woman at the well. From start to finish, this encounter flies in the face of every social norm of the time. Samaritans were a mixed ethnic group and very well hated by Jewish culture. It was completely unheard of for a Jewish man, let alone a rabbi, to speak with a Samaritan. Jesus begins His journey by telling the disciples that He needed to go through Samaria. So, there in the middle of the day, He goes out of His way to talk with a Samaritan woman. He turns her world upside down by extending truth, grace, and love towards her. And then He uses that encounter to teach the disciples about whom He came to save and who is welcome in the kingdom of God.
In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus tells a parable about a man who was robbed and beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. Both a priest and a Levite saw the man yet avoided him by crossing the road. Then, a Samaritan saw the man and had compassion on him. He went over and above in caring for the wounded man. He bandaged him and paid for more care at a nearby inn. Jesus patiently taught the disciples about what it looks like to show mercy, even when it’s to our enemies.
I recently had dinner with a group of people at a literal round table. There were about ten of us. We were of different ethnicities, ages, and walks of life. Most of us were new to each other. Some of us were acquaintances, and some were good friends. This group had never assembled before, and yet the Lord had a beautiful purpose in mind for this gathering. Our gracious host was a lovely new friend of mine named Edie. She is in her early sixties and has such a huge desire for unity and love within the Body of Christ. She gathered us together in hopes of creating a safe space for us to process and for her to listen and learn from those of us with brown and black skin. We broke bread, shared communion, and had hard conversations.
My friend Bri, who just happened to be visiting at the time, was also at this table, and she shared truth filled with wisdom and revelation. She said that the kind of conversations we were having were best done around a table.
I couldn’t agree more! When I think of the early Church in the book of Acts, it says that they met in homes daily. They prayed, worshiped, broke bread, and I’m sure had all manner of conversations. I imagine there were opposing perspectives on life issues and interpretations of Scripture, those with questions and those with answers. There was probably agreement and empathy and even apologies over hurt feelings from those who sat at the table.
Creating space at the table doesn’t make issues, like racism, disappear. However, it does create an intentional space to have those conversations. The table becomes the place where we are all seen, heard and loved. We can learn and be educated in online spaces, and I believe the next best thing to do is to bring what we are learning to those tables among friends and family that are willing to learn and grow as well.
Bri also spoke of changing our mindsets from earthly perspectives to kingdom perspectives. We are citizens of heaven, but we forget this too easily and let earthly perspectives rule our hearts and minds. Through Jesus, we also have access to be in constant fellowship with God, and we can experience His presence here and now. By our words and our actions, we can also show others who God is.
As we keep renewing our minds, God’s thoughts become our thoughts. We begin to see others the way He sees them. We begin to love the things He loves. We begin to walk in unity with one heart and one mind. Isn’t that what we all desire?
I know I am not completely there yet. I am wrapped in human flesh that gets in the way sometimes.
But God is patient, kind, loving, and faithful. He is the author of salvation and redemption. He is light in the darkness and makes crooked places straight. He is the mender of all things broken. He is our Prince of Peace. He is the perfecter of our faith, and He is our soon and coming King.
Hard conversations are best done at the table, and we can take heart when they become uncomfortable and filled with tension. We have a God who is with us and who helps us along the way.
Have you had conversations about racism at the table — literally or figuratively?
What have you learned about God through them?