One of the primary points I have tried to make in the wake of the Charlottesville tragedy is that we cannot wait for others to act or speak. As Christians, we have a responsibility to act now. We can't simply be people who complain about what's wrong, but rather take part in forming the positive side of a solution.
It's similar to the old question: when is the best time to plant a tree? Answer: 20 years ago. We need to take steps today that will bear fruit for many years to come. For example, a group of multi-ethnic pastors that I am part of began meeting after the Trayvon Martin shooting. We recognized we needed to build deeper relationships with each other in order to foster strong bonds and deeper understanding in our community. Events are fine, but we need more than events. We need relational investment and shared partnerships that transform and shape communities. So think about it: what can you do?
A few suggestions:
- Stop talking, and start listening. In our social media-saturated world, we are shouting over one another to make our voices heard. As followers of Jesus, let’s set aside our need to be heard and start listening.
- Eat with people who are different from you. Jesus shared meals with people from all walks of life, and the simple act of sitting down at a table together can be a powerful way of building trust and finding commonality.
- Ask forgiveness, even if you don't think you're the problem. Tanner Fox wrote a great post on how Dr. King’s letter from a Birmingham Jail is still thoroughly relevant to today’s Christian, and where our responsibility lies.
- Allow for gracious mistakes. In an inflamed culture, it’s easy to find reasons to disagree or feel slighted. Bring the grace of Christ to conversations, experiences, and situations you don’t understand.
- Worship with people who are different from you. Worship is a naturally humbling posture, and being in the presence of God together can transcend our human limitations. Worshipping alongside people who don’t look or think like you is one way we demonstrate that God’s people can come together, even when the world draws dividing lines.
- Pray for healing together. Prayer aligns our hearts with God’s heart. When things get heated, prayer can defuse tensions within the Christian family.
- Join a multi-ethnic service organization. Many such organizations are in need of volunteers, and nothing breaks down barriers faster than serving. Examples: Boys and Girls Clubs, Orlando Union Rescue Mission, FOUR12.
- Set up a lunch with colleagues in your field. Lead a discussion on how you can influence your workplace on racial equality.