geezeronthequad: Time to Show What the Gospel Can Do…
One of the dangers to this conversation on race we all say needs to happen lies in underestimating how long that conversation is going to take. Somebody suggested an equivalent of South Africa’s Truth Commission. I can see a number of universities hosting seminars and forums – all well and good. The talking (and most inportant) the listening must start and it doesn’t matter where. As a child of the sixties and a Christian understanding a little about spiritual warfare, I would suggest this. If we’re going to throw a punch, make a public stand or take a step for the Kingdom of God, don’t beat the air. Make it count.
The Christian students on our campus make up one of the most strategic groups to address racial issues for four reasons. One, students have been some of the most involved people on this subject. Students were all over the civil rights struggles in the South in the Sixties. Two of the three civil rights workers murdered in Mississippi were students. The second reason rests in the power of the university to not only touch but rule the world. Ideas and trends of all kinds either birthed or nourished on campus will leaven every level of society in every corner of the world. I don’t just mean Harvard and Yale. I mean Tiffin, Gannon and Clarion. A third reason is hidden in plain sight; our campus has a racial problem and I don’t care where our campus is, how big or small, how progressive the administration thinks they might be. I don’t care if everybody on our campus is all the same color, like purple or paisley. Racism comes in all colors -white, black, hispanic, asian, orange, magenta and chartreuse. The hidden attitudes and spoken thoughts live and breathe.
A fourth reason cuts to the core of the problem. Racism reeks of sin. Until we deal with the heart, any and all surface solutions, no matter how good they may be in the short run, will disintegrate under the gravitational pull of human sinfulness – both systemic and individual. Christianity has repeatedly demonstrated the power to dissolve boundaries of hate separating people. Paul said in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Also in Colossians 3:11, “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all in all.”
The early Christians slugged this out over the Gentile question. Jews and Gentiles hated each other going back at least four hundred years. The Jews had an ethnic slur for them – the dogs. (Jesus used it in Matthew 15:26) The only way Gentiles could embrace Christianity was to cross over, get circumcised first and become Jewish. We don’t have a problem; they have to become like us. Then they’ll be normal and proper. They yelled at each other a little (Acts 15:2) and convened a big meeting (Acts 15) to hash it out where some good listening must have happened. God laid a vision and a miraculous conversion on the pile to speed things along (Acts 10, Acts 15:7-12). They learned to be sensitive to each other, suffered lapses and to forgive one another. I pastor a multi-racial (predominantly white) church. We didn’t set out to be that; it just sort of happened. We have a rule. You walk in the door. We love you. We’re sort of a MASH unit and we could never have orchestrated or predicted some of the people who take us up on the deal. We don’t do this well but the people we’re trying to love (be they white, black, purple or paisley) are very patient and forgiving with us while we stumble around at it.
As Apartheid crumbled in South Africa, Nelson Mandela knew that residual hatred and anger could still destroy the country. Too much suffering and evil had gone down to be erased by elections and demonstrations. He came to Bishop Desmond Tutu saying that the Christians had to take the lead in showing blacks and whites in South Africa how to forgive. Why? Because the Christians were the ones who knew how to do this. There’s quite a compliment wrapped up in there somewhere. Why should we be so good at this? Because we have been forgiven of sin, judgment and hell. Because this has been a pure gift, industrial strength mercy, completely unearnable and undeserved. Because Jesus Christ literally indwells our being through the Holy Spirit providing power to change, power to forgive, power to love the unlovely, power that nothing else in the world can match. I did a radio interview with an Ivy League prof who claimed that Evangelical Christians were the drive wheels of any and all social change in this country during the late eighteenth and nineteenth century – a debate he would take anywhere, anytime.
How do we start and make it local? That will come in my next post. I know exams now threaten to reduce our brains to figgy pudding. But I will suggest some things to start both inside us and on our campus. Some involve homework (reading). But relax; it doesn’t have to be now. Finish exams, leave campus on break and go eat out of someone’s refrigerator.
Related to nothing here, take a look at the interesting video done by Kentucky Christian University on the 10 Commandments of Proper College Cafeteria Etiquette. “Wanda” is my mother-in-law and, after you’ve watched, please know that we respect and love her deeply.
Are we running out of Christmas gift ideas? Maybe we’d like a few to pass around to others who might be shopping for us to head off the obligatory liver pudding fudge squares or the Christmas stocking of guacamole. Take a look at the geezeronthequad Christmas store. A lot of us who see this blog do some pretty cool things with the Lord’s help, things that would stoke the fire under someone’s walk with Jesus Christ.
If you think this will encourage either a college student or someone who loves them, please share, subscribe, Twitter and all that social medias stuff. If you already subscribe, maybe you need to be part of Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for geezeronthequad.com that has juicy things that don’t make the blog. Geezer 1 is a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, artists, writers, musicians, composers, broadcasters, booksellers, business people, pastors, theologians, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs as well as a few campus rats who think that Jesus Christ thinks the university is a special place. Take a look and shoot us a request to join.
Please return your seats to the upright position and give your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post at geezeronthequad.com.