This is the word that impressed upon my heart at the beginning of this year as I wrestled with the fear of not having the right words to say in various situations. As I have felt this fear creep up again recently, I have been convicted by the truth that being silent on the issues of justice contributes to attitudes of racism and complacency. And so once again this word has been laid on my heart.
I feel compelled to listen to voices that have remained unheard for many years, voices that have been ignored and silenced. I want to hear my brothers and sisters of color as they share stories of what their narrative has been for far too long, being humbled by the fact that I need others to point out institutional and personal racism, white supremacy, and white fragility as they are so ingrained into daily life that they are difficult for white culture to detect. I want to learn to listen to the beautiful voices of these brothers and sisters.
I feel urged to listen more intently to God, through the Holy Spirit. I want to be in tune with Him as He illuminates parts of my heart in which I have held racist attitudes, being broken over ways in which I have been complicit in the building of a society that is filled with racism. As God reveals who He is in His true nature, I want to be listening carefully to this revelation of His character, with eyes wide open as the truth of who He is illuminates the brokenness and injustice in our world.
The Scriptures are filled with commands for us to listen, both to God and to others. And yet we often refuse to obey this command, choosing to be consumed only in our own narrative. For so long we have celebrated our freedoms as a nation, claiming to have liberty and justice for all despite the racism that has plagued our nation since the beginning. And largely because we choose not to listen.
The terms “racism,” “white fragility,” “white supremacy,” “white privilege” etc. make us squirm and want to change the subject. And for many years, privilege has made it possible for us to do so. I have been challenged by a favorite author of mine to linger with what is uncomfortable. This brings to light the sickness of our hearts. When we linger with the uncomfortable, it reveals sinful attitudes or wrong beliefs that we hold. It shows us what we need to surrender to God for Him to change and renew in us. If any of the above terms cause you to squirm, I would like to challenge you to sit in that space for a moment. Ask God to illuminate for you why it is that these ideas make you uncomfortable.
It is time for us to listen to the voices of those who are hurting, seek out ideas and theology from people of color. In the White Western Church, most of the theology we read, hear, and sing is by other white westerners. Be intentional about listening to and respecting other voices. Listen with ears open and heart prepared to be softened. Allow yourself to be surprised by truth as God speaks through these voices.
A List of LEARNING Resources
During the month of June, The Across My Heart Team participated in the social media #blackout by taking the time to learn and listen to our Christian brothers and sisters talk about racial injustice. Like Ecclesiastes 3 states, we believe it was our “time to listen”. As a response, we have put together a list of some of our favorite resources about racial justice, as well as black voices to listen to that we would love for you to check out as you begin this journey of listening.
SCRIPTURE TO READ
Racial Reconciliation – Ephesians 2:10-11 | Dr. Voddie Baucham
Grace, Justice, & Mercy: An Evening with Bryan Stevenson and Tim Keller
Grace, Justice, & Mercy: An Evening with Bryan Stevenson & Rev. Tim Keller Q &A
Race and the Christian: Q&A with Tim Keller, John Piper, Anthony Bradley
BOOKS TO READ
COURSES TO TAKE
Free Online Class: “How Do Black Christians Live Out Their Faith in America?“
FEMALE BLACK VOICES TO FOLLOW