Racial Reconciliation: I first heard the term last year. After the death of George Floyd, I started doing a lot of research on racism, American history, and how it all fits together. Unfamiliar terms and social ideologies flooded my social media feeds. Everyone seemed to have an option. I didn’t know where to begin. I felt overwhelmed with information and didn’t know where to find an unbiased opinion to the information I was uncovering. So I began to pray. I also asked advice from those who’ve been involved in anti racism work. Who do they follow on social media? What books are they reading? That’s how I came across Latasha Morrison and her best-selling book, Be The Bridge.
In her book, Morrison explains what it means to be a reconciler. She uses the term “bridge-builder” to describe those who are doing the hard work of learning, teaching & leading. She explains why racial reconciliation is so important. But what stood out the most to me was the way she alway kept Jesus at the center of her approach. I knew this was the gospel-centered pathway for me to move from curious to courageous. Now, I want to help you get there too.
What Is Racial Reconciliation?
According to Merriam Webster, “reconciliation” is the act of restoring a friendship or relationship. Therefore, when applied to race, it describes the restoration of a racial broken relationship.
A Little History Lesson…
Some may wonder if a healthy relationship ever existed. Hasn’t it always been broken? Since the beginning, race as been a barrier to healthy relationships in America, starting with the Native Americans and continuing with Africans who were brought here as slaves. However, history shows, it hasn’t always been that way.
Did you know the word “race” or “racism” never appears in the Bible? God did not create race as a way to divide man. Rather, He created humans with diverse gifts, talents and cultures. In turn, we created traditions, holidays, celebrations and customs. However, NONE of the diversity God designed was dependent on race. That division was totally man-made. Yes, there were conflicts among different groups in the Bible, but they were never based on skin color. And that’s were the difference lays.
Anti racist / Reconciler…What’s the Difference?
Quite a bit actually.
Anti racists are simply individuals who oppose racism. Most people would consider themselves to be anti racist. They don’t actively seek to hurt or discriminate against another group based on their skin color. Although that’s a start, it is a passive approach to racism. Anti racists are not necessarily doing anything to learn or grow their knowledge and understanding. They may believe it’s a good idea, but they are not actively championing others, standing in solidarity or advocating for change/ justice. This is why people say, “It’s not enough to be anti racist.” Anti racism doesn’t require action while being a reconciler is a whole other story.
Reconcilers are committed to doing the hard work, both internally and with others. They are continually learning and expanding their knowledge in areas of history, justice & reform. Reconcilers welcome hard conversations because they understand that’s where growth happens. They understand relationship is the birthplace of compassion & empathy. Listening to the stories and experiences of others is critical to understanding how we experience the world differently. Lastly, they take responsibility for their own biases while constantly evolving.
Where Does Jesus Fit In Racial Reconciliation?
I’m glad you asked. Jesus is at the heart of reconciliation. When Jesus died and rose again, He reconciled us back to our Heavenly Father. It is important to God; so important that He wants us to be reconciled with one another. How do we know this? He told us. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 says, “18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”
Jesus gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
3 Ways Jesus Taught Us to be Reconcilers.
First, Jesus commanded us to “love one another”. In John 13:34, Jesus commanded us to love others as He has loved us. We know Jesus’ love was unconditional. It wasn’t based on class, social status, financial position or skin color. Therefore, we are called to love in the same way, without conditions.
Second, Jesus showed us how to treat those who are different from us. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus showed us over and over how to treat one others. He accepted people as they were. This can be hard for us, even for those who believe the same philosophies. We journey at different speeds. It can be frustrating when others don’t seem to “get it” like you do. However, as reconcilers, we believe it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to change the person. We are simply working in partnership. Just like Jesus, we are to love, show compassion, be empathetic and support one another.
Third, Jesus gave us the ministry of reconciliation. Jesus knew reconciliation through the Holy Spirit, has the power to change lives. When we submit to the work God wants to do in and through us, space is made for change to happen. Walls come down. Ideologies shift. Strongholds break. Relationships are restored.
How Can I Become A Racial Reconciler?
Here is my list to get you started towards becoming a Racial Reconciler.
- Pray – Ask God to soften your heart and prepare you for the work ahead.
- Commit – Make a decision to do the work, even when it gets hard & uncomfortable.
- Act – When you know better, DO better. Along the way, you’ll discover areas you can get involved. Do it!
Reading Be the Bridge was my first step on my path towards becoming a reconciler. I strongly suggest it. It walks you step-by-step through your own process and provides a foundation for you to build upon. Click the link to order your copy.
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