Race in the Kingdom

photo by Linda Nelson

By Linda Nelson

Race- A class or kind of people unified by shared interests, habits or characteristics

-Merriam Webster-

The black life is unlike any other existence. It doesn’t matter how many black people you know or have married into your family- the experience of being black is shared only by other blacks. On the inside, black skin is merely an adornment that contributes to life’s sundry landscape, but on the outside, a subtle change in skin tone has the power to elicit skewed opinions and re-ignite acts of previous atrocities.

This country has watched in horror and disbelief as racism has once again been laid at the feet of a generation. And the roots of hatred now threaten to nullify the battle that was once waged by slaves who planned revolts and created undergrounds to freedom. And by white abolitionists who risked their lives to protest publicly and provide places of refuge for human beings who wanted only to be treated like everyone else. Gone are the days of teenagers who sat at lunch counters where they were spat on and yanked off stools. And mothers and fathers and grandparents who marched across cities knowing that just ahead were bloody encounters with night sticks, and water hoses and attack dogs. Past racial atrocities brought action from college students who gave up their carefree college days for a  bus ride to the south filled with firebombs, and beatings and days spent in jail.

As a black woman I am angered by the attitude of entitlement from some and the apathy and violence of others. But as a Christian, I find myself in the middle between God’s will and my own. To whom is my allegiance? Is it to my race or is it to my God?

Love –An unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another

-Merriam Webster-

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had to choose between His flesh and His assignment. While His flesh cried out “My Father, if it is possible let this cup pass from me, nevertheless let your will not mine be done” (Matthew 26:39),  Jesus knew that His obedience was tied to our deliverance. So He submitted Himself to the will of the Father and became a representative for you and me. He was beaten beyond recognition, ridiculed, spit on, mocked and finally crucified by the same hands that he now prayed for (Luke 23:34). And even when He didn’t understand, He trusted the Father, who always sees the end of a thing from the beginning (Matthew 27:46).

My assignment can never compare to His sacrifice, but the example that He left for you and for me should challenge us to always choose Him. It is God who loves us and fights for us and continuously restores us. For Him, the least I can do is offer to exchange the feelings of helplessness, and anger and retaliation, for His wisdom and direction. The question is no longer, “What would Jesus Do?” but, “What would He have me to do?” (Ephesians 5:1,8)

God told Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, and his seed would be too abundant to count. It sounded ridiculous because Abraham was old and Sarah, his wife, was barren.  In order for Abraham to buy into what God saw for his future he had to see like God saw. God told Abraham to come outside (Genesis 15:5-6). From that place Abraham saw the vastness of the universe, and his perspective about God and himself changed.

video courtesy of YouTube

Kingdom- the realm in which God’s will is fulfilled

-Merriam Webster-

In the cocoon of blackness, it’s difficult to see beyond the news and the conversations on social media sites, but as citizens of the kingdom of God, it is essential that we make the transition from anger and fear and helplessness and entitlement and apathy to the place that we need to be. That place cannot be in the middle. God has redeemed us so that we will be a counter culture within this culture, and show the world the heart of our King.

I know it sounds like a lot, but we can do this because of the shed blood of Jesus who pushed aside Himself so that we would have victory. It’s not always the easiest way, but it is the only way. In order to be successful we have to:


“Warn those who are unruly, see that no one renders evil for evil, pursue what is good for yourselves and for all, rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in everything, don’t quench the Spirit” (I Thessalonians 9:14-22).

Through my involvement with a local race forum, I have seen firsthand the efforts, by those who don’t look like me or live where I live, to understand the black experience and make things better. In fact, the majority of people who attend these forums and race groups in this area are white. These are facts that are rarely revealed.

Join or form a racial forum.  Explore political options. Get involved with law enforcement. Help to promote understanding across the aisle. Be mindful of one another. Make a conscious effort to let one another in.

This means that no longer can we remain silent when coworkers spout untruths about another race. We have to remove ourselves from the middle of racist jokes made in jest and out of ignorance. We must resist the need to socialize with only those who look like us and be willing to step outside of our tents to experience the beauty of God’s vast creation.

At a local race forum, the white editor of a local newspaper tearfully shared his story. He had been raised in a small all white community where he never saw or interacted with black people. He didn’t encounter a black person until he went to college. Because he had no social interactions with blacks, he didn’t care about or understand the struggle. Years later, he was invited to attend a community race forum where he says he got to know black individuals and listen to the stories of experiences and frustrations. Only then did he see them as friends, and become invested in their lives because what they shared was more than what they did not. Their stories became his stories.

Father, we are the people who are called by Your name. As Your sons and daughters, You have created us for this time and have placed within us everything that we need in order to succeed in the earth. We will be victorious to restore peace and unity as we proclaim your kingdom to the world. Help us to get out of the middle and find our places as salt and light in this world.  Help us to celebrate one another, and make concerted efforts to bridge the gaps of racism. Let Your love be our guide, and may we always choose you over ourselves. And we will give you the praise and the glory, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

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