Martin, Zimmerman & the Gospel

Racial-unitySo I am a little slow…

It has been over a week since the Zimmerman Verdict. Everyone  who has had something to say has mostly said it.  Some have said it really well.

There is no reason for me to rehash all that has, or hasn’t, been said.  However, I am really present to this question:  In our culture today, with elevated levels of anxiety and the resulting group-thinking that is leading to deeper and deeper division, how do we move forward in a way that is healthy, brings deep healing and honors one another?

I have a deep conviction that the way forward is paved by people who are learning to love in such a way that deep listening becomes a way of being. This way forward is led by people, not government, institutions or judicial systems; but by people who are being transformed (romans 12:2) and living differently.

It is clear that our nations continues to struggle with racial prejudice and injustice – that there are white people who have deeply felt negative feelings about anyone of color; and that there are people of color who have deeply felt negative feelings about anyone who is white. And, of course, there are any number of variations!

When we define love in a way that says, nobody wins unless everybody wins, and define a win as being able to clearly define oneself and be deeply understood, we then begin to step away from the win-lose way of listening and being with one another. When we begin to listen to understand rather than to fight, we begin to love.  It doesn’t mean we have to agree!  But love calls us to listen deeply when we don’t agree.

One of the best thinkers I know is the brilliant Bill Lamar ( I met him while doing some work around issues of leadership at Duke.  More than the wisdom regarding leadership, what I recieved most from Bill was the gift of his capacity to listen deeply to me around areas we didn’t see eye to eye on!

Somebody has to start!

And it might as well be me (and you?). In Romans 5:10 Paul says, “When we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him…”  In human history, God made the first move, and has continued to invite us into that move of redemption. The point, tho, is this – God made the move when there was still enmity and hostility.  God went first.  What would it look like for God’s people to join him in going first?

What would it look like for you to sit down and have conversation with some whose experience is different than yours because of their race, ask them what their experiences have been like, and listen to them deeply? I think this would be really hard to do.  I also deeply believe these are the kinds of conversations God is calling us to have.

The first totally loving thing Jesus did as a fully alive and fully human person, was ask Mary and Joseph to do something really really hard.

Right.  Not only was Mary asked to risk stoning and take on the pregnancy of a child that would not be her future husband’s, and not only was Joseph asked to move forward in the wedding plans and to be the earthly father of a child that would not be his; but they were both asked to love and parent a child who is fully “other” than they. He would be called the Son of God. He would be (and was and is) fully human, but he would not be the usual Jewish boy.  This call to do something hard is also a the most loving thing God could will and do for Joseph and Mary.  If we believe 1 John 4:8 to be true, then EVERYTHING God does is a loving act of his will – even this.

Even calling us to do the hard thing of loving those who are not quite like we are…

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