Hi Friends, It’s good to be back! During my break, I had some memorable experiences and of course, I want to share them with you. I’m excited to share a 3-part series, “My Summer Reflections on Race, Romance and Reaching Our Potential.” Each week I’ll share how I encountered each of these topics this summer. Although my experiences were separate, you may see a few connections. I hope you’ve had the opportunity to rest and reflect this summer too. I look forward to hearing your thoughts as we continue to discover “hope for the heart and joy to the soul!”
This Summer, Brady and I participated in a joint Bible study between our predominantly African-American congregation and a mostly Caucasian church. It was our second time sitting in this circle. Last summer we studied the book of Philippians.
Each year we explored race relations.
This June, we discussed the book Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore, with Lynn Vincent (2008, Thomas Nelson). The subtitle introduces us to the main characters. It reads, “a modern-day slave, an international art dealer, and the unlikely woman who bound them together.”
It’s an accurate description of the story line. But I find the phrase “modern-day slave” disturbing. In my modern-day mind-set, the term “slavery” has the worst connotation. Images of oppression and bondage shudder in my soul.
But thankfully, truth arrives:
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God, he created them; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27 NLT
Whenever something distorts the beauty of this verse, it must break the Creator’s heart — especially, when our differences distant us from this truth. I thought a lot about differences as I sat in our group’s circle. From our experiences with employment to our perspectives on law enforcement, it varied from hue to hue.
But when I consider our nation’s history, sameness surfaced. Because when it comes to race, we’ve all lived under a cloud of perception based on the color of our skin. African-Americans still struggle for acceptance and respect despite achieving major accomplishments. Whites still struggle to be received when they reach across the racial divide.
But Image bearers were not meant to be image snubbers.
Not image judgers.
Not image haters.
Racism is divisive in nature, arrogant in thought and destructive in action. It doesn’t care if we’re dishing it out, taking it or watching it on a screen — as long as we aren’t challenging it in our hearts or in our circles. It is anti-Genesis 1:27.
The image of God forever defines us. Will the issues of race forever divide us?
As our small group read about the characters in the book, we saw how people who are vastly different can have the same values of faith, compassion and friendship. I’m aware our country has places where diversity is embraced and enjoyed. But the places are too few and the evil of racism won’t quit, unless we say no to its insults and to any indifference.
And we say yes, to the Image giver.
With our varying skin tones of His image, our group brought our wounds, questions and fears into the company of strangers. We trusted our faith in Christ to build bridges to a better understanding. We emerged with budding friendships and a desire to continue in our fellowship.
As a nation, our walk across the bridge seems endless, winding through generations of systematic oppression, violence and stereotyped information. Only God’s grace and truth can take us across. We either get there together or we won’t get there at all.
Because it’s hard to live in bitterness and deception and live under grace and truth at the same time.
Our group took small steps in a complicated walk towards repentance, forgiveness and unity. I’m thankful for our experience. I look forward to where God will lead us next. And through Him, what we’ll overcome next. It’s an outlook that brings hope for the heart and joy to the soul.