Choose...A Radical Response to Racism
Someone has well said, “Repetition is the key to learning!” This is certainly the case as we look out on the face of an American culture shaped and shattered, torn and tormented by the repeated assault of an insidious trichotomy of individualism, consumerism and racism. It is apparent, in this season, that racism is the dominate head of this three headed beast. This aberrant enemy of humanity, Racism, is the most vicious while the other two (individualism and consumerism) lap up the remains that lie in the wake.
Racism is a learned, programmed, FALSE paradigm that deceives humans, destroys community, distorts identity and denies hospitality. God offers humanity a better paradigm and way to live. God gives love.
“Those who are loved by God, let his love continually pour from you to one another, because God is love. Everyone who loves is fathered by God and experiences an intimate knowledge of him. The one who doesn’t love has yet to know God, for God is love. The light of God’s love shined within us when he sent his matchless Son into the world so that we might live through him. This is love: He loved us long before we loved him. It was his love, not ours. He proved it by sending his Son to be the pleasing sacrificial offering to take away our sins. Delightfully loved ones, if he loved us with such tremendous love, then “loving one another” should be our way of life!” 1 John 4:7-11 TPT
Love acts to disciple the image bearing follower toward true celebration of ‘identifiers’ (physical difference), the intentional practice of friendship and neighborliness, while radically initiating hospitality and care for the whole being.
Our identity is not in our identifiers, yet, the programing of racism distorts the two and would make a physical difference equal to the person. That is not of God. God gave humanity identity by making them in His image and likeness. Additionally our intentional practice of friendship and neighborliness is the cornerstone and foundation for civility. We become the continuation of Jesus on this planet as we intentionally practice friendship and community. Finally, our practice of initiating radical hospitality toward the world is the means and platform for the systemic programming of racism, and any other ill to find a safe place to be reshaped. This is what God calls love!
“Anyone can say, “I love God,” yet have hatred toward another believer or another person. This makes him a phony, because if you don’t love a brother or sister, whom you can see, how can you truly love God, whom you can’t see? For he has given us this command: whoever loves God must also demonstrate love to others.” 1 John 4:20-21 TPT
Make the choice to Love. Choosing love denies the culture’s influence and the sin-sick, deplorable thinking of racism. Choose LOVE! Racism, even at the subconscious level is demonic and evil at best. Choose LOVE! Don’t be colorblind. See and celebrate the bouquet of humanity, celebrating God’s creation is the only way to enjoy God’s “wonderfully made” human family. Choose LOVE. Don’t be reactionary and hypersensitive to your context. Remember, those who are sick with racism have been programmed (often without even knowing as much) and, the enculturation of American racist thinking results in racist behaviors.
Choose Love and thank God for the mission of making strangers your neighbor and neighbors friends. Choose LOVE!
"Sometimes you have to wait"
I had a great seat, plenty of leg space, a very thin neighbor, working air conditioning, and a window to look out of. We boarded and buckled up. We were seated and greeted. All things were ready! The plane moved from the gate and headed off to the runway. Our flight attendants began to go through the traditional precautions and explanations of safety for the flight. We gave our best effort to show that we were listening.
The formalities were finished, and our seats were in the upright position. Our tray tables were up, our bags under the seat in front of us. You know the drill.
Now, traditionally, I would deprive myself of sleep so that I am fully fatigued and ready to just about pass out the moment the plane takes off. Today was no different. I held on through all the niceties and formalities of the flight crew’s protocols. I was courteous and greeted my seat partners. I figured, if I'm going to be potentially leaning on their shoulders while sleep, they should at least know my name.
I was tired. I could barely hold my eyes open as the plane slowly moved back and away from the gate. I could kind of make out the last words of the pilot over my smooth jazz play list in my head phones, that was helping me out to drift off to sleep.
I felt myself jostle! You know the kind of jostle when you jump and then look around, praying that no one saw you just bang your head against the window or the seat in front of you? The insecurity of everyone watching you sleep; The concern over the open mouth, lazy eye, ooops I dribbled on my shirt kind of face? Yeah… that’s where I was.
I woke briefly to see that we were in line and on our way to take off shortly. I decided that I had had enough. I went all in on my sleep. I tucked my head into the corner just where the window aligns with the seat. I positioned my head to lock in and eliminate any involuntary movement that may unintentionally wound my neighbor (i.e. flailing dream arms). I crossed my arms, one hand under each arm, prayed and passively allowed sleep to take over. It did! It took me instantly.
You can always tell when sleep is good when you are awake and feel fresh and have no sense of how long you have been sleep. That's what I had! It was that good sleep! I stretched. Reached up and curved in the seat as best I could. I pointed my legs out and bent forward. I had the first row of seats, so I couldn't really bend down even while in the seat.
I wiped my face and eyes while looking around the plane. A few other passengers were sleep and then something struck my attention. People were talking on their phones. The flight attendants were nicely standing about, conversing; and, I couldn't feel any movement. The typical roar of the plane was absent. The plane engine was quiet. Some people seemed disturbed others seemed just fine. I, however, was confused. I thought, "Have we landed already?"
I turned to my right and raised the shade on the window. I looked out the plane only to see that we were still on the same runway. In fact, we were parked. I noticed that the entire area was covered in what seemed to be a rough storm’s aftermath. I looked into the horizon and it verified the immediate deduction. The sky was darkened and menacing. Bodies of clouds were rapidly moving past us.
About that time the pilot came on the intercom and said, "I'd like to thank you all for your patience. Mother nature dealt us a hand that we didn't expect and, we just had to wait it out! But..., it's all clear now and we can continue our flight! The worst is behind us! "
Isn't that how life deals with us at times? Isn't it interesting how storms come in our lives suddenly and without warning and can completely STOP YOUR PROGRESS?
SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO WAIT!
Wait for the Lord… (Psalm 27:14) Blessed are all who wait for Him!(Is. 30:18). I wait for the Lord, my soul waits… (Psalm 130: 5)
Sometimes you have to wait for seasons to change. Sometimes you have to wait for your opportunities to open up. Sometimes you have to wait for others to be ready. Sometimes you have to wait and you don't have any idea why.
When you have to wait for the right season, you're challenged to make the most of your weight in the current season you are in. If you are in the winter waiting on spring, you have to make the most of your time. You must plan, prepare, pick the right seeds and pray over what you want to do when the spring comes. And, when the spring comes you have to work your plan! That's when you cultivate and create! Allow your summer to grow your work. In the fall enjoy your work but do so with wisdom. Because, after all, winter WILL come again!
The same is true when you wait for new opportunities. Building a base of wisdom is essential so that you are ready to seize the moments that God gives you. Ask God for wisdom (James 1:5-8) research for wisdom (Proverbs 2:1-22). Learn to fear God so that your wisdom is not earthly (Prov. 1:7; James 3:17-18). When the intersection of your gifts and God's opportunities meet up, step into them with confidence.
When you can do well with being wise for yourself, you can become more patient with others. In my opinion, waiting on other people is by far the most challenging type of waiting.
When you’re challenged to wait on others there is much to consider. First, you must consider where you are in the occasion. Does another person frustrate you because they remind you of your own failings? This is often the case with children. I often hurt because I come the realization that I’m frustrated over something with my children, but I haven’t properly taught them how to do it.
Second you must consider the person’s situation. We honestly don't know everything going on with people in the context of a day or even a moment. One’s history and thinking affects everything about how they deal with their now. It's best to be forgiving and patient. Especially in light of what God has done for you.
Third, you must consider what being frustrated by having to wait on someone else will cost you. I don't mean money (well, not all the time), I mean emotionally, spiritually, and practically. Think about it. Why allow what you can't control to dominate your spirit. You end up being stressed, sick, suffering unnecessarily, and then the fruit of that frustration contaminate moments that follow.
Take a more practical and peaceful vantage point. See if you can help. Practice praying for them. Be okay with waiting. In fact, prepare to wait. When you can position yourself to wait in advance you are settled when it comes. You’re not surprised or upset. You’re not bent out of shape and bitter. You’re empowered in the moment and prepared to take a break that wasn't on the schedule but necessary. Because, after all, “sometimes you have to wait.”
You don’t know why
But then there are those unique occasions where we are challenged to wait and we don’t know what’s happening or why it’s happening. You know those moments! Those are the occasions when we don’t seem to have a point of perspective or the ability to see any hope on the horizon. We need to remember in those occasions that the hope that we have. We are never left to be victims of blind spots even when we can’t see. As people of faith, “We walk by faith and not by sight!”
I recall the Pilot’s words as we had come out of something that I had not even seen. He said, “Mother nature dealt us a hand that we didn't expect and, we just had to wait it out! But..., it's all clear now and we can continue our flight! The worst is behind us!”
God often works just in the same way. He will allow us to sleep through a storm that we don’t have any power to deal with and then opens the moment up to move forward when the worst is behind us. He has done that with His people all throughout Scripture. He allowed Israel to go to sleep while He worked all night paving the red sea highway. He allowed Adam to go to sleep while He worked to prepare His bride and the mother of all humanity. He allowed Hezekiah to go to bed sick and wake up to the promise of 15 years of life. He allowed Ruth to find the remedy for her family over the course of one night. The Psalmist says that weeping may endure for the night, but Joy comes in the morning. It is amazing what God can do while we rest and rely on Him.
I rested and God worked. I waited in sleep and God worked through my slumber. When I woke I was refreshed and ready for the trip ahead of me. I didn’t let the delay bother me. I was safe.
I was set and I remembered that "sometimes, you just have to wait!"
~"Thomas" C. L. Thomas
“Pain is "an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage." It is the feeling common to such experiences as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting iodine on a cut, and bumping the "funny bone".” …. “Pain motivates us to withdraw from potentially damaging situations, protect a damaged body part while it heals, and avoid those situations in the future. Most pain resolves promptly once the painful stimulus is removed and the body has healed, but sometimes pain persists despite removal of the stimulus and apparent healing of the body; and sometimes pain arises in the absence of any detectable stimulus, damage or disease.”
What about that pain which damages no tissue? Some pain hits places that nerves are absent from. Some pain runs deeper than a stubbed toe, a funny bone or a jolt in the gut. Some pain is attached to the soul of man, the spirit of man, the essence of man. When it gets that deep, Advil, Tylenol, and liquor can’t reach it. You need the power of God who dives into the unseen to do the unimaginable in ways that are unexplainable. He sends comfort!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Co 1:3-4)
Because the loss of a loved one brings pain that lasts beyond a moment, one needs The God of Comfort. He is eternal in His presence and provision. Only the comfort of God can qualitatively treat the issues of life and the proclivity of man to need comfort again and again. Here's the place where you can shout (A Hallelujah shout, that is). Remember that God is able to minister to you in your past, your present and your future. He is ahead of you in provision. He is behind you with grace and mercy, and He is with you by faith and covenant care. Take a moment and rejoice that with the pain comes the promise of God to comfort you in this season.
"Thank you Father for ministering to us by the comfort with which only You could supply!"
-Thomas CL Thomas
Thomas Thomas brings unique qualities and gifts to enhance the effectiveness of ministry training. He is a dynamic preacher but also a scholarly teacher who is sound in faith. His positive experience in evangelism and growing congregations will help to equip future preachers and missionaries for their task of expanding the borders of the Kingdom.