Leadership Blog

Engage in racial reconciliation

Posted by Roy Cervantes on

Last fall I had a roommate drop out of our lease 3 days before we were supposed to move in. We were in a panic to find someone to jump on the lease and our list of friends that we would want to live with was exhausted. In a last ditch effort to find a 3rd roommate, I had my fiancé post an ad to the TCU Classifieds Board.

We received 2 inquires of interest pretty quickly and my roommates and I let out a sigh of relief. One email was well worded with proper punctuation. You could tell an educated individual was on the other end of this message. I assumed that this was a white dude that was in a pinch as a transfer student.  The second message was much less proper. In it, he told us that he was a transfer student walking on to the TCU Football in his sophomore year. I could tell by the way he communicated that he was African American, grew up in an inner city, and made the judgment right off the bat that I preferred the other guy.

I went ahead and scheduled a skype interview with both of them even though I had already made up my mind. The first interview went as expected. He was a big guy from Chicago trying to make his way up the depth chart on the Defensive Line Squad. He spoke very loosely and his grammar wasn’t always correct. My judgment was correct based off of the email.

To my surprise, the second interviewee was a young African American man with a neatly groomed beard and a modern fade. He spoke well and looked clean but I questioned if this was the same guy that had first emailed just because he was black. Once the interview was complete I realized the mistake that I had made and vocalized my need to repent with my fiancé and roommates. Months later, I had a conversation with him as he was now our 3rd roommate, and apologized for my judgments. He forgave me and we continue to grow and build our friendship.

I tell this story because it is important to realize the impact that racism can make on anyone and how reconciliation is important and gospel centric for us as believers. Racism is nothing new to humanity but it will take a combined effort to remove it from our communities and us.

Our God is one that is constantly and actively reconciling all of creation back to himself. Ephesians 2:13 says that through Jesus we have been brought near. This is a reminder to the majority group (the jews) that the gentiles, those different than them, have been brought near just as much as they have through Jesus.  We must not turn a blind eye to discrimination past and present but meet it head on seeking empathy and grace. We must rebuke one another when we allow this sin to creep into our lives. The greatest recorded rebuke came from Paul to Peter for simply creating a barrier between those most like him and those different.

In the days of the early church, the Jews as the active majority population, were attempting to hold gentiles to their standard and customs of life and living. There was animosity and strife between these two people groups simply because they were different. They failed to see that they were the same body made in the same image reconciled from the same things to the same God. Ephesians goes one to say that Jesus destroyed the dividing wall of hostility making peace. If we are the body of Christ we must seek to break down and reconcile the divisions we have put up against other people.

I have often heard that “Well, I’m not racist because I would never treat someone differently because of their race or ethnicity”. In reality, action is not what makes a person racist but rather the symptoms of racism. Simply put, racism is the thought, belief or assumption that another person is inferior, or less or more desirable than those similar to us, which leads to partiality or bias. We are ALL guilty of this. We have all been on the receiving end of this and the only way to reconcile it is to seek empathy first.

Empathy is a powerful tool for reconciliation. I will never know what it was like for one of my college roommates to be followed home by the local Police Department nearly twice a month for reasons unknown to us. But my empathy can help create healthy conversation and show him that I value him. In the same way, empathy is the best first step in seeking reconciliation.

Ultimately, instead of being a majority culture that decides and identifies what a minority culture views as racially insensitive, lets be a people that prioritizes listening and engaging in conversation before offering blanket statements. Lets be a people who doesn’t dictate what is acceptable in a minority culture but seek to understand and extend grace to people made in the image of our gracious God. Lets be a people who unite with our Jesus to destroy and reconcile walls that sin builds up between humanity.

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