if I were being honest

After what transpired in Charlottesville a couple of weeks ago, it would be easy for me get on a soap box and go on and on about how awful white supremacists are and how we should all fight them with every bit of energy we can muster. As much as I agree with that response, I don’t think I am the person to make those types of statements. I watched the events of Charlottesville from a distance and shook my head in disbelief. When I heard about the rally on Friday night, I turned to my wife and said, “Saturday could be interesting.” Little did I know what would happen or the crazy rhetoric that would rear its angry face. Between our president making the “both sides were wrong” statement and the inevitable fighting that occurred on Facebook, things certainly got interesting.

Instead of pointing a finger at everyone else and making sweeping statements to seem like I know what I am talking about, I would rather turn a thumb towards myself and get honest. A couple of months ago, we did an episode on White Privilege and the hidden prejudices we all possess. Most of the time, we don’t like to acknowledge our own prejudice exists because it feels like it infers we are overt racists and hate all people of color. I don’t believe this is the case. By acknowledging where prejudice lies, you can address it and grow. 

Recently, David posted the following graphic on racism that came from http://racismscale.weebly.com/.

What I would love to tell you is that 100% of the time I waver back and forth between Allyship and Awareness. I would love to tell you I am flat on my way to Accomplice; however, the truth is that I tend to have more of a swing than I would like to admit. I have moments of Subconscious Racism that will creep in followed by moments of Denial. Depending on the new cycle, I can find my mind drifting on to black on black crime. I can convince myself that somehow having black friends means that I am out of the racism spectrum, and I can tell myself that love simply conquers all.

I say all this to admit that I have a long way to go. I don’t dwell in the areas of Subconscious Racism or Denial, but I do have moments where I drift back there. The best advice I have ever received on this subject was a simple one: educate yourself. The time is now to learn about the true history of the United States. It is time to learn about the scars that we possess as a nation and as the white community. The time of brushing aside things like white supremacy is over, and the time for honest conversations with everyone is now. It is time to stand up to the subconscious racism that permeates our own hearts, and then turn our focus to the community as a whole.

This is especially true when it comes to the church. We have spent far too long on the sidelines with this issue. We have told ourselves that people groups such as the White Nationalists are just fringe people that don’t truly represent the white community as a whole and thus don’t need to be addressed. I believe if Jesus were on the earth today, he would flip over tables within our church communities and implore us to go out from the comfy confines of the church building and go get some skin in the game. It is far harder to hate someone with whom you have a relationship than it is someone you never speak with. May we not let fear keep us from reaching out and being the hands and feet of Jesus.

Before I end this, I do want to mention one thing. This issue is one that will not be solved overnight. Progress will not be fast moving, but each step is important. Each conversation with a person of color is important and each attempt to educate yourself is important. I really hope that someday I am able to write a blog post about how amazing it is that racism doesn’t exist anymore, but even if that never happens, the act of taking steps towards that goal will be enough. May we all walk towards justice and peace.


Currently Reading:

Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough by Jefferson Bethke

to question our beliefs

I have had several conversations in the past few weeks with people who have walked away from the church. One of the things that proved detrimental in each of their stories was not being allowed questioning beliefs.

When we equate our religion with God, we lose the ability to question it without being accused of doubting God. This is unhealthy. For anyone who needs it, I would like to offer you permission to question your beliefs. To question your beliefs isn't a criticism of God; it is the awareness that our understanding of an infinite being is finite. We need to have the humility to be open to the possibility that our understanding of an infallible God may be fallible. If we refuse to question, we limit our ability to understand who God is and risk getting stuck in our misconceptions.

There is, of course, a group of Christians and churches on the opposite end of the spectrum. In this group, we question everything. Questions are a staple of how we interact with God. Where the first group values certainty, the second values doubt.

Questions are paramount to seeking God and allow for movement down the path of our individual journeys of faith. But the problem the second group has is that it has gone too far and worships questions above truth. I’ll steal a quote from the apostle Paul, who wrote,

“Question everything; hold onto only what is true.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21

Allowing this idea to inform how we structure our faith is the only way to have a healthy belief system. If we question without the purpose of finding truth, we never allow ourselves to actually know anything about God. We hold everything we used to believe in an open hand and then stop there.

Jesus described himself as the truth -- we should be wary of calling ourselves his followers if we don’t hold truth in any esteem. We as a church have to be willing to question and to search for answers.

about the author    James Isenhower is one of our co-founders, writers and podcast masterminds. 

about the author

James Isenhower is one of our co-founders, writers and podcast masterminds.