On this blog the past week or so we've seen played out exactly what can be expected in any discussion of race in these United States today, whether outside or inside the Church. And it's discouraging.
Bring race up and about five percent of those listening at one end of the spectrum will be white racists, closely paralleled by another five percent at the opposite end who are black racists. (Here, though, we've only had the white racists present, yet they've done an effective job shutting down this discussion all by themselves, haven't they?)
Both groups shout their hatred and the ninety percent who really want truth and healing can only run for cover, more convinced than ever that, aside from the power of God, the issue is hopeless.
White racists are devious, race-baiters every bit as pernicious and deceptive in their tactics as Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson. There's no reasoning with them because they're more interested in winning than talking. And black racists are their mirror opposites, using their racial identity and the sympathy naturally accruing to the oppressed to issue edicts and demands. And the majority of us, black and white, sit in the middle plugging our ears.
So no, there can be no civil, let alone truthful or vigorous discussion of our nation's past, of the institution of slavery across the centuries, or of the exclusively white or black culture that pervades almost every last church in our country and is a perfect contradiction of Galatians 3:28...
Everyone shoots low, aiming only for safety. We must all talk and write about race as if we were producing a medieval morality play where the point is only to give a very simple lesson to the ignorant. But of course, privately, we all have quite deep thoughts and feelings about race, some of which don't fit into any category of safe speech in our country today. But will we speak up and ask the questions we really want to ask, or acknowledge the sins we really want to acknowledge, or confront our brother with the sins he's committed asking him to repent?
Of course not. The bullets are flying so the closest we'll get to true healing is going to a Promise Keepers rally and crying about our own sinful racism, and confessing how wrong and sinful to our black brothers white supremacy has been, and feeling warm fuzzies all over about the small group of whites and blacks and Asians on the platform hugging one another.
Somewhere, sometime, somehow we're going to have to have some good old Paul-facing-down-Peter truthtalk about this matter. And likely, when it happens it will coincide with the Holy Spirit reviving His Church. Until then, let's all do everything possible to be agents of reconciliation. And yes, that must include us telling the small number of true racists always popping up in the middle of the place to be silent--whether they're white of black--er, I meant to say African-American.