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Conventional Thinking: Learning lessons on race

U.S. Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma joined others to propose “Solutions Sunday,” wherein people would intentionally seek out opportunities to converse at the dinner table with someone of another race.

Taking Sen. Lankford’s advice to heart, I have recently conversed over a meal with individuals who are African-Americans. My eyes have been opened by the experience, and I want to share some things I am learning from these men, each of whom are brothers in Christ.

// Racism is a persistent evil

From the time slavery was practiced in America, to Jim Crow laws, to segregation, to lynchings, to the very existence of white supremacy and the KKK, African Americans throughout our nation’s history have faced true oppression and the full brunt of the evil of racism.

To be black in America, throughout our history, has come with oppression and obstacles that those of us who aren’t, perhaps, cannot fully understand. We need to admit that to be African-American still presents hurdles that others may not have to face, and it’s our job as Christians to work to correct these.

We are, after all, working toward a day in which people are treated equally, no matter their race. Racism, sadly, is here and now and must be dealt with, because it will not die of natural causes.

// Listen more and watch
our words

James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

When it comes to race-related issues in America, so many seem so willing to be slow to listen, quick to speak and quick to become angry. Christians ought to be the first people who are known for listening more than talking, especially when it comes to something as important as racial reconciliation. Moreover, we need to be aware of phrases we use that might, even unintentionally, annoy or drive people of another race away.

// See through another’s eyes

When you sit down to a meal and look another person in the eye and hear directly from them, it becomes much easier to see life through their eyes. Take any issue related to race, such as where the Confederate battle flag belongs, and try to see it through another person’s eyes. Listen to the effect the issue has on them and don’t just assume that your perspective is the only perspective.

You also can take time to read books, such as one I read called “Removing the Stain of Racism in the Southern Baptist Convention,” in which we hear from various Southern Baptist perspectives (“black and white”), all well-grounded in the Scriptures, to further open our understanding. In seeing through another’s eyes and hearing various perspectives, we can be blessed with wisdom.

// Unite in Jesus Christ

Ultimately, racial reconciliation is possible because of the finished work of Jesus Christ. No other leader or ideology, regardless of how good sounding or seemingly important, can bring about the true reconciliation we find through Christ.

Among Christians, we should not be divided on racial lines. We are one in the Body of Christ. As the book of Revelation tells us, in heaven, there will be a multitude of people from “every tribe and tongue” (Rev. 7:9), and we will all be united in Christ.

In that time, gone will be the days of racism. But what a joy it is to know we will still get to sit down and share fellowship with each other at the Lord’s banqueting table.

Brian Hobbs

Author: Brian Hobbs

Brian is editor of The Baptist Messenger.

View more articles by Brian Hobbs.

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