How do we respond with courageous love in order to bridge the divisions facing our country? Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, Raymond Chang, and Amy Julia Becker reflect on racial injustice, unity, discipleship, and ways to courageously love our neighbors.
Natasha Sistrunk Robinson is an author, speaker, former US Marine Corps captain, Naval Academy Graduate, and founder of Leadership LINKS, Inc. Raymond Chang is the president of the Asian American Christian Collaborative (AACC), a pastor, and writer.
On the Podcast:
“Unity has always been at the heart of God. So has diversity…it’s not unity in uniformity, which is what we see in a lot of evangelical spaces.” - Ray
“When we see these things [racial injustice and civic unrest] happening, it is a cause for mourning. It’s a cause for lament. It’s a cause for care and concern and hospitality.” - Natasha
“The church should have so much to offer that our culture doesn’t have in a time of turmoil because we believe in a God of love and in a God of love for every individual human being and for our world in an even broader sense.” - Amy Julia
“The Christian ethic is to move towards the stranger, not away from the stranger; move towards the other, not away from the other; move towards the person who’s different, not away from them.” - Ray
“We’re called to both preach and practice the Gospel. We’re called to embody the Kingdom of God.” - Ray
“We have to count the cost of discipleship, and when we talk about this issue of racial justice and injustice and unity, and all these things, if you really commit to it, it’s going to cost you something…I always talk about these issues as discipleship issues—they are discipleship issues.” - Natasha
“The biblical understanding of justice is about proactive care for the vulnerable.” - Amy Julia
Thank you to the Church of the Apostles in Raleigh, NC and the Center for Christianity and Scholarship for sponsoring this discussion. Thank you to Breaking Ground, the co-host for this podcast.
Head, Heart, Hands, Season 4 of the Love Is Stronger Than Fear podcast, is based on my e-book Head, Heart, Hands, which accompanies White Picket Fences. Check out free RESOURCES that are designed to help you respond to the harm of privilege and join in the work of healing. Learn more about my writing and speaking at amyjuliabecker.com.
Note: This transcript is autogenerated using speech recognition software and does contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.
We have a count. The cost is discipleship, and we'll be talking about this issue of racial justice and injustice in a Unity and all these things. If you really commit to it, it's going to cost you something. That's the truth. I always talk about these issues as discipleship issues, they are discipleship issues. Hi friends, I'm Amy, Julia Becker. And this is love is stronger than Fear. A podcast about pursuing hope and healing in the midst of social division. And this season, we are talking about how we can respond to the brokenness in our own lives and in our society with our heads hearts and hands today's episode, it's a little different than the usual because it is an edited version of a live conversation that I had via zoom with Natasha Sistrunk Robinson and Ray Chang.
This was for a church in Raleigh, North Carolina earlier this month. And some of you may remember from last season that I had a chance to interview Natasha. She is a friend of mine who wrote a book called a Sojourner Is Truth, Choosing freedom and Courage in a divided world. She is also a speaker, a former US Marine Corps, captain Naval Academy, Graduate founder of Leadership LINKS, Inc. An amazing woman. Raymond Chang is the president of the Asian American Christian Collaborative, who also serves as a chaplain at Wheaton college. So Natasha Ray and I were invited to talk about the social and political divisions we are facing as a nation. And we are asked to do so, especially from the perspective of people of faith.
0 (1m 39s):
Ah, one more note, before we get started, the original zoom event included some music and prayer and a presentation of local community opportunities. These are not included here on the podcast for the sake of time, except at the very end of the episode. And I hope you get a chance to listen to all the way there. We included a prayer by students who are all members have a group called crossing chasms, which is a faith based leadership project that gathers diverse students and empowers them to explore, connect and respond in a world of division.
1 (2m 13s):
Yeah, for our first question for you guys, we'll start with this. So as people of faith, all three of you are people of faith and you're people who have a high value of the authority of scripture. And you also see what's going on in the world, around you, in the culture around you. So for each of you, could you talk a little bit about how scripture informs your thinking on this topic of division and Unity? And so Amy, Julia, I wonder if you kick us off talking about that.
0 (2m 46s):
Sure. And I could talk on them to be an answer to this question, but I'm not going to do that. And so having been given a little for a warning, I thought about lots of different places in scripture that I think speaks to division and Unity, but at the place that is really my heart
2 (3m 0s):
In my attention is actually the center of the book of Ephesians, which is really a book about Unity and about what it means to be the people of God. And there was this one passage for a lot of time, I will say when I got Unity met, it was getting along with one another, not fighting as Christians. And I remember when I was reading through Ephesians and I got to this part, I'll read it. And now it's from Ephesians three I'm Paul is writing about the mystery of the Gospel, the mystery of Christ and saying there's been a mystery and it has been hidden for many, many years for centuries. And it's finally been made known. And so when he gets to verse six, it says this mystery is, and its kind of like drum roll.
2 (3m 40s):
What's the mystery. What happens? The mystery is through the Gospel. Gentiles are heirs together with Israel members together in one body and shares together in the promise in Christ Jesus and I, my first thought was why was that such a mysterious thing? That the journey that God loves the Gentiles too. And it's because for the whole history of the Israelites, they thought they were the chosen people in the Gentiles who are not, and in Christ they were brought in. But I started thinking about it. So what does that mean for us today? And because Paul goes on to say the way people are going to know this mystery of the gospel is because they are going to see this lived out there are going to see the family of God.
2 (4m 23s):
It's a new family, it's a family that's never been together before. And it's this new family of God were the Gentiles and the Jews, the biggest social division of that era has been broken down through the gospel. So that I'm going to go back to verse six heirs together members together, sharers together. So he's clearly making a point about the togetherness and he is also making a point about the family of God. This is not just, Hey, you're allowed to be here to, but we are still the chosen ones. It's, we're all here together as a family. And it just has helped me to think about what it means for us as the church to be a bear witness, to the ways in which the Gospel overcomes our social divisions, not by saying, Hey, come be like me.
2 (5m 14s):
And then we can follow Jesus together. But instead, what does that mean for us to pursue justice together, to be humble together, to serve one another together, especially when we're looking at social divisions that have often put us into all sorts of different camps. So that's what first came to mind when I was asked that question about unity and division.
3 (5m 39s):
How about I love, I loved the, I'm a feast, the book of Ephesians On does Paul Paul writes. So a lot about all of these things in different ways in his writing, but I think it's important that we talk about the LG to that. And sometimes we forget to, to look at what Jesus said and look at what Jesus did. And so a lot of times I like to come to Jesus prayer in John 17 regarding this topic, because one of the things he prays for is for a oneness among those who will come to follow him. And when he's praying for that one is he saying that he was talking to his father.
3 (6m 20s):
And so God, the son is talking to God, the father and saying, you know, may be one as soon as we are when I am in you, when you and me, and it may be in, in, in basically in the us in the farther, in the same way. So this, this whole idea of when we are United, when we are one, when we are together like mine, like vision or mission for the Kingdom, what w we actually do is to be at Trinity. And then I've written, I've written a Bible study on the, the Trinity. And I think, you know, sometimes we think about that from a theological perspective.
3 (7m 3s):
And we're not thinking about it as when that Trinity is evident that people do the work that actually happens in the world. And so Jesus is present. His father said if, if, if your children behave right, if your children who are actually reconcile, if your children truly live redeem, if they are United, then what they do is they bear witness to the rest of the world that I have actually come that I am. And I am who I said, he said that I, I was, and, and that, you know, they get to see in, in the physical, what is happening in the spiritual with the Trinity?
4 (7m 40s):
Yeah, that's a really good, I mean, I would just echo what they each said. A and for me, scripture informs everything as it does for Amy, Julia and Natasha, it's really the lens and filter by which I think we need to see the world through. It informs the ways that I listened to and interrogate the things that, that, that I'm hearing and, and, and I'm seeing and observing. And even if I'm interrogating the things that others who claim to believe in the authority of scripture often say, but in the old and new Testament, we do see how the theme of Unity is present. A is present and prevalent firm. The ways that, you know, Psalm one 33 declares how good it is when brothers and sisters well together in Unity, keeping in mind that context, that this is the Psalm of a fish is one of the songs on the set.
4 (8m 29s):
Where are the people of God from all directions came together to the temple in Jerusalem. And then to exactly what Natasha was saying, John 17, where Jesus with prayer would that have Unity so that the world might see that, you know, that, that, that the father type of sun, you, you clearly see how important the theme of Unity is. A Unity has always been at the heart of God. So has diversity. In fact, that's part of his nature and Natasha Senate. There's, there's a triune God, three persons Than won. And it's historically been a picture of what unity and diversity is. It's not unity and uniformity, which is what we see in a lot of evangelical spaces. There's this call to uniformity or Unity, a call to, ah, kind of Unity through a simulation where we erase the, the God instilled cultural, ethnic, uhh, kind of values and ways of being in order to fit in.
4 (9m 24s):
But what we see consistently, especially through the nature of God is a true unity in diversity. But you see throughout the scripture that the idea of Shalom the idea is a piece, the ideas of reconciliation, All emerge 'cause division is real and a sin rot World. And as Natasha said, a bunch of Paul's letters address the issue of unity and division. And you could even say that there are a part of what, one of the major themes and the majority of his letters, but, you know, as a Amy, Julia, even reference in Ephesians, I, I love how it feels it is laid out. He is actually speaking through a church Divided. And what he basically says is that if you want to get to Unity, as we see it in Ephesians for, you have to commit to reconciliation.
4 (10m 12s):
When you see in Ephesians two, but you can't get to reconciliation apart from just this, which you've seen to be as, as, as one it's. So you're not going to remember that both mercy and justice men at the cross, and both are critical to the Christian life. And if we really want to get to Unity and we have to go through the gate of reconciliation and of justice as good, thank you all.
1 (10m 37s):
Ray's starting to preach a little bit. It's good. Well, lets move to the next question and it is this beautiful to see how much scripture has to say. And so thank y'all for sharing those things. So next question. So Natasha and Amy, Julia, you are with us last January and a lot has happened since last January, hardly even need to go through those things. We are also aware of these things, but there's been a global pandemic protests over the summer, racial strife, political division, and attempted insurrection economic stress. There's been a lot that has happened over the past year. And so let's actually talk about this past year and in particular, could you all talk a little bit about some of the distinctive ministry of care that the church has to offer in times like these?
1 (11m 26s):
And so Natasha, would you share a little bit with us on that?
3 (11m 31s):
Yeah. I think a word that I might be common to us is hospitality, but I think unfortunately in the West, sometimes we think hospitality and we only think about eating. We might think about just inviting people into our house. But if we are honest, we don't often make good habits of inviting the other into our home. We often invite people who can reciprocate that invitation write. So there are normally people that are like us or people in our same social economic class. Those are the people we tend to invite into our most intimate spaces. And so I think what, what the church, what we need to see in this time is an extension of that hospitality and extension of that vulnerability.
3 (12m 14s):
Because one thing that we see, another thing we see throughout the Bible is that of rejoicing with those who rejoice in mourning with those who mourn and, And we, where we are in this, this time of racial injustice and civic unrest, particularly regarding people of color for black people. Obviously for a long time, we were seeing an increase of violence towards our Asian American system, sisters and brothers. And so when we see these things happening, it is a cause for mourning, right? It's the cost of our morning is a cause for lament is a cause for, for care and concern and, and hospitality.
3 (12m 55s):
And when we are unwilling to do that, we have to really wrestle with the words that Jesus talks about, about whether we are sheep or whether we're a goat. You know, about when you, when Jesus says blessed are those who respond in certain ways, whether we're responding in the way that Jesus calls us to respond, when Jesus pronounced his own ministry, he says that that that ministry is going to have physical and spiritual implications. And I think a concern with the church is too often, we are just looking at this at the spiritual and ignoring what's happened to the happening to the physical bodies of people in the reality is that God cares about all of it, right?
3 (13m 36s):
God cares about what's happening to people and our, our health and our wellness in our bodies and our minds. And, And we as a body of Christ, our hospitality has to extend to show concern for our entire being. And it's not until we do that, that will start to see healing and hope coming from God's people
2 (13m 60s):
Unmute. Thank you, Natasha. I love what you have to say. And one of the things that I've been thinking about recently is actually the word hospitality, because someone pointed out to me that the word hospital is in it and they actually come from the same root. And so when we think about hospitality is just getting together with our friends and having, you know, a transactional relationships where we all get what we want out of it, as opposed to thinking about it as an act of care and have a healing, the wounded, and especially if we were in a position to do so to be a ministry of healing. I think that is just what your comments made me think about it, but I've also thought about, and piggybacking on what you're saying, that the church should have so much to offer that in our culture doesn't have in a time of turmoil because we believe a God of love and in a God of love for every individual human being and for our world in an even broader sense.
2 (15m 0s):
And so we have, first of all, have access to that Love so that we, as a person in that person's, don't have to be sucked dry by carrying for the all the, as you said, weeping with those who weep that doesn't have to come all out of us, it can come out of the love of God has poured into us so we can engage. We also have actual practices like limit, like confession, like repentance. We have practices like prayer, which all of those things can actually root and ground us in the love of God that we might be equipped to bring that love into the world. The other thing I would say that the church has that our culture doesn't have that is really necessary right now is a different understanding of Justice.
2 (15m 45s):
We have in our culture. I think more conservative understanding of justice that relies on an individual rights and responsibilities. There are some good things about that. There are some harmful things about that. We have a more liberal view of justice that talks more about collective, both responsibility and wrongdoings in systems. And there's some good things about that. There's some harmful things about that. And then we've got a biblical understanding of justice that actually both of those ideas probably have emerged out of it, but that biblical understanding of justice is primarily about proactive care for the vulnerable 10% of the times when justice is talked about it in the Bible, it's talking about retribution for wrongdoing, 90% of the time it's talking about going out of your way, if you have power, and if you have the capacity to actually care for the vulnerable, I mean, that is just mind blowing to me, that is what we were called to do is Justice, but in a very different way than what our culture is talking about.
2 (16m 45s):
And yet in a way that I think, again, it goes back to what you were saying about hospitality and healing. So I think the church has such an opportunity to bring the love of God into all of these places, whether it's the pandemic or a responding to the depths of a mod are Barry and Brianna Taylor in Georgia Floyd. And we can keep the list going, Oh, we have so many ways in which we can respond with love, with hope in with healing. And we have spiritual tools that have been practiced for generations that we can offer as long as we don't get sucked into our cultural, our broader cultural debates and divisions.
4 (17m 21s):
Good. How about you, Ray? Yeah, I mean, I think there are, there are killing it right now. I'd say to add to them, I'd say leave the Kingdom, right? The church needs to live out of the ethics and a commitment of Kingdom, life and values. You know, both in Natasha and Amy, Julia mentioned hospitality, you know, it's, it's the love of the stranger. You know, if you be locked into the knots and the whole notion of xenophobia comes from the second word, there's a year of experience with her. And The Christian ethic is to move towards the stranger, not away from the stranger move towards the other, not away from the other, moved towards the person that's different, not away from them. And so if you are constantly moving away, which is what segregation has done and essentially, and, and now it's much more of a class segregation than any other type of segregation, a voluntary segregation.
4 (18m 10s):
We're not actually shining the light of the gospel into the areas of darkness. We were called to both preach and practice the gospel. We are called to embody the kingdom of a kingdom of God into this world. And one of the ways in which we do that is to move towards the divisions. And I think it was purchased needs to learn how to do that. Well, move towards the fractures. Otherwise we can't bring healing and the healing balm of the gospel to the world. I think one of the ways we can do that, especially because, you know, we are living
5 (18m 40s):
In a society where
4 (18m 43s):
Churches are still extremely segregated. I mean, less than 70% of the churches are considered a multi-ethnic multi-racial and of those churches are, the majority are, are led of the multi-ethnic multi-racial churches. And the majority of those churches are led predominantly by the, by white pastors. And what that means is that the majority of the diversity we see within the evangelical church world are the, are the church in the, in the United States is because a curricular, the propeller are going to churches that are led and shaped by white Christians, more than the other way around. So you'll rarely see a consistent move from a white community into the communities of color or churches that are led by that, that you do you feel that Martin Luther King Jr.
4 (19m 31s):
His words still resonate. That was the 11 o'clock hour on Sunday is still the most segregated hour in Christian America. And what's challenging is what we see. And even in the educational world where our school's are just as our, our, our, our, as segregated are more segregated than they were during the civil rights era. And so I think if we're going to actually move in any meaningful way and it speak the truth of God's word, the truth, the gospel into the word, we have to move forward to the visit, the divisions. We have to actually disciple people out of the things that, that perpetuate problems, especially around rates of them and political idolatry. And then I think the, the most powerful way to do that is to begin by believing the stories of those who are from historically marginalized communities, instead of explaining away why, you know, why racism
5 (20m 23s):
Isn't real anymore, or
4 (20m 24s):
Why it's no longer a thing, or why, why people our poor, because they, they are they're lazy or are, they don't work hard. Maybe you get to know those stories because you will see that there's a lot of pressures and a lot of realities that hinders certain things from actually happening in people's lives. So they can kind of experience an economic, financial, even a familial health. If I I'll stop there.
1 (20m 50s):
Right. That's good. And I we'll move our, I will move us forward a little bit. Ray, you you're actually starting to kind of touch on the next thing I was going to ask about. So tonight we are talking about a Divided world. And so I wonder what are some of the obstacles are that you all see some of the things that disrupt or prevent Unity. We talked about Unity, but some of the things that create some of that division and prevent Unity. So I think Ray, you started to touch on some of those things, but I wonder if you want to comment some more on that.
4 (21m 22s):
Yeah. I mean, I think, you know, we know that divisions and I think that we have a, a malnourished approach to tackling the division is we, we, we, we like to say, just preach the gospel as if the proclamation of the Gospel that does it address the social ills is going to affect the social ills, but you don't see people, especially within the evangelical world, say just preach the gospel. And we don't talk about abortion, right? We're talking about abortion because we care for people in the womb. We have to talk about the racial is we see, we have to talk about the political idolatry and we see, but oftentimes as a, the RLC president and a friend named Russell Moore said that many Christian leaders, many evangelical leaders will only be as loud as the wealthiest person in the room will allow them to be.
4 (22m 12s):
And I think that I seen that consistently occur where the church pastors have shared with me multiple times, that when they started to talk about the January of 60 events and the inspirational, and he started to bring up issues around George Floyd and Brianna Taylor in a modern are very, and, and both in Jeanne and many others, people would start threatening within their own congregation. Long-standing members will start threatening to pull their giving. And I'm like, this is a problem. When you see the church as a, when you see congregants as donors, instead of faithful, people of God who are part of the community who have been called to steward with generosity to meet the needs of the congregation, especially those who are, are, are, are in need and hurting.
4 (23m 5s):
I mean, I've heard pastors say that because, because they started speaking up on kind of political idolatry, there were entire slander campaigns because he moved away from kind of their historic political tradition within their church. And, you know, from what I know, Gina is the called well beyond both political parties. What we're seeing, especially in terms of like political idolatry, actually let me start back for a second. Yeah. Christian are actually committed to Truth, right? We can all agree on that, but sadly, we're seeing a lot of Christian propagating conspiracy theories actually too.
4 (23m 45s):
The point that this was the number one path to all concerned that I'm dealing with right now regarding my students, my students are often, and here's the thing across from me because they're parents have bought into a lot of the conspiracy theories that we're seeing today. And as I asked them, how many students within the student body who are experiencing something similar, they estimate somewhere between 33% and 75% of the student is the entire student body are taking some sort of serious relational strain with family members because of these conspiracy theories. But the root of all of this is what we are in. What we're thinking is a political idolatry, which is what we're talking about. That many are actually writing about these days. In fact, there was a study done by Stanford and Dartmouth professors that showed how political identity, what they are as a whole throughout the United States was a stronger identity than one's religion, race and ethnicity.
4 (24m 39s):
What that means for Christian is that many Christians find a deeper sense of identity with their political party then with Jesus. And what we're seeing in that in many who are buying into these conspiracy theories that are dividing their families, aren't susceptible to do it though, because they've fallen prey to a worship of a donkey or an elephant over the lamb of God. If that's what breaks my fart, all of the ways is that it is people are trying to shove Jesus into a elephant or a donkey costume when Jesus does it fit within either costume and neither party Prince within the Christian faith. And so what we're seeing is that people are more loyal than a political party than they are fake.
4 (25m 22s):
And sometimes even our family and you know that because I've had so many good conversations with the, with a food and pastors and other Christian throughout the country. Thank you. Right. And that's, it's good and helpful. Natasha, how about you?
3 (25m 37s):
Yeah. I'm going to put to a book's in a chat when I finish here, but just to, to, to provide some good solid resources that are accessible to lay people too, about what Ray is talking about it, because I think it is very important when he's talking about, at this particular time. One of them is compassionate and Conviction from the ad campaign, the a and D campaign. I'll put that in there. One of the authors has just been good. Bony. There you go. That one, I highly recommend that one. That's an excellent read. And the other one is by Eugene showed thou shall not be a jerk. I, I would recommend that one as well, but both of them are address.
3 (26m 17s):
These are adult trees that, and, and, and you know, that rape was bring it up. I think that's a very important for me. I think, you know, we have to count the cost of discipleship. We have to count the cost of discipleship. And we'll be talking about this issue of, of racial justice and injustice in a Unity of all of these things. If you really commit to it, it's going to cost you something. That's the truth. And always about these issues as discipleship issues, they are discipleship issues. They're not social justice issues. There are a discipleship issues and Christ himself says that we must be willing to lead and put aside all the things so follow him.
3 (27m 2s):
And if we are not doing that, that tells me that tells us according to the word that we are being discipled by something or someone else, and that's called adultery, and that God will not take right. God will not stand in it. So I think we have to be very honest about the difference between orthodoxy and orthopraxy. And so a lot of times we like to talk like we have the right words, but our actions, our Christian ethics are not aligning with the things we proclaimed with our lips. And, you know, Jesus talks about this. We should not be people who are, who say, Lord Lord with our lips, but how about a heart is far from God, right?
3 (27m 42s):
That's not the type of Christians that we want to be. And so I think that we really, you don't want to challenge each other to be people who are followers of the way being Kingdom, citizens, being the areas of, you know, the throne that Jesus sits alone as Lord and God. And that Kingdom will not feel that King and will always stand in anything else that we are worshiping and putting our hope and trusting. And we know is in conflict with the Legion that we have supposed to bear to that Kingdom.
2 (28m 22s):
The only thing I would add, no, I mean, y'all said so many helpful and true things here today is just that I think the M especially as someone who has grown up in all predominantly white churches from a variety of different denominations, the emphasis on an individualistic Gospel that does not envision the cosmic scope of what Jesus came to do. So of course, Jesus came to love me and to have a relationship with me and you and all of us as individuals. And that is a beautiful Truth. But if you do this did not come for more than that, then there's a lot in scripture that that's not true because the scope of the work that God wants to do, yes, it's in and for us so that it can be in and through us in the world.
2 (29m 16s):
And that a consumeristic hyper individualistic. Let's not either, let's not talk about politics because that is what does that have to do with all this, or let's stay safe for, you know, it's just about me and Jesus. There are lots of different, I think, forms that this takes us. And certainly that has been true in my life in the past where I just had a way to smile and understanding of who God is and why Jesus came and what it meant for him to actually reckon with the sin of the world, not just my personal sin, but the sin that actually divides people and that oppresses people, and that hurts our whole, our whole world and all of our communities, and to deal with all of that on the cross.
2 (30m 1s):
And then to give us the hope that we could live into the resurrection with him and with one another, as the body of Christ. So it's a hyper individualistic and consumeristic version of Christianity, which goes back of course, to what Natasha was saying about idolatry, because that's not, I mean, it's such a small version of the Gospel that it's not even the true gospel, but it's one that I believe. And he was living for many, many years. And I think that's true, especially for many white Christians, it feels safe and comfortable. And it also is not the fullness of the full life that Jesus has come to give us and to allow us to enter into with other people.
1 (30m 43s):
That's good. So Amy, Julia, just using what you were just talking about, how God deals with his people as a whole, not just as individuals and using that as a stepping stone. I wonder if you can talk a little bit four, the experience of a person in the white church might be often to say, you know what I hear in these conversations about race? I hear lots of talk about what was done in the past, but that wasn't me and I, and I hear about things that are going on out in the world, but it wasn't me. And so there can be this experience of, of a white person in a white church of saying, yes, there's wrong in the world. But if I'm a white Christian and I see kinda the racial problems going on in the world and I feel blamed for those things, what would you say to me?
2 (31m 28s):
Yeah, I'd probably ask a couple of questions. One would just be like, where is that sense of blame coming from M is that actually, it's something that you're putting on yourself? Is there, are there any ways in which you personally have a place for repentance and confession, but if the answer is no, I mean, in my case, I certainly can look at a lot of passive, like lack of participation in Justice. When I was, I have had that real understanding of Justice as something that is not just a retribution for a crime or for wrongdoing, but proactive work on behalf of the vulnerable, the quartet of the vulnerable is what they call it, the orphan, the widow, the stranger, or a foreigner, and the poor.
2 (32m 18s):
I have not been proactively seeking justice for people for much of my life and for many of my days. So, I mean, there is an, I do think there's a sense of just on that very individualistic level. I have some serious repenting to do most of the time, but I also think I'd have been convicted the collective language of scripture when we read the new Testament in English, because we don't right. Y'all when Paul uses or Jesus uses or whomever the writers are, or when they use the plural. We miss out on the fact that most of the new Testament is written to y'all.
2 (32m 59s):
It is not written to you as an individual. And I actually really do believe that if we translated it with a sense of that plurality, it might help us to conceive of what it means to be stuck with each other. And so we are stuck with our brothers and sisters in our forebears, both in their glory and in their shading. And you are stuck with me in that as well, if we claim to follow Jesus together. And so when we pray, forgive us, our trespasses, well, who are, are we asking on behalf of it? It's not just forgive me, my sins, it's forgive us. And so I am implicated in the sins of other people. And that's true when, when you look at prophets in the old Testament who would come and they would pray on behalf of the people, even if they have not committed the specific act of sin that was being talked about.
2 (33m 49s):
So I think there's a humbling act that does. I mean, again, I am personally implicated and I don't want to pretend I'm not, but even if that weren't the case, I am implicated by being in fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. And knowing that we are sinful people who have done wrong and who have certainly not done right. Many, much of the time. And what would it mean to humbly come before God together? I think there's a lot of healing that could happen.
1 (34m 21s):
That's good. That's good. And in a season of LINKS, so that is a good thing. This is a right time for that. So that's really good. Well, we are here tonight to talk about courage and hope. And so don't want to miss out on the chance to talk about that, to listen to you. I'll talk a little bit about where you've seen Courage and hope
2 (34m 46s):
You can go.
4 (34m 49s):
Yeah. I mean, I think I've been encouraged by people are actually moving towards the divisions. I mean, I think that a large scale, we are talking about courage and hope, but one of the things that I'm concerned about is after the, the George deployed, then they were being more white. Christians actually deny the fact that racism and systemic racism are a significant issues. And so there's some significant books that are coming out, research journals by evangelical Christians who are actively in these discussions who are, are finding that people are, are denying more, that that racism is an issue in our society. And so there's a concern for that, but I am seeing a smaller population of people really asking the question that I'm around.
4 (35m 37s):
Like, how do we actually address these things that are now seeing their, they are not the ones that are doubling down on a, On neglecting racial injustice, but they are saying, okay, we are starting to see and understand what, what, what black Christian did. Other Christians of color have been saying for, for so long. And we want to help be a dealer's in, into this a racial divide. And so I think those who have been kind of pressing in doing the reading, trying to understand how race racialization and racism operate in our society, how God calls us to care for the oppress, the, for the hungry and the marginalized, the widow, and orphan its been encouraging at that time.
4 (36m 24s):
And then of course, you know, seeing people support work like the work that we're doing with the Asian American Christian Collaborative, like we started at a less than a year ago and we've already gotten, you know, like 20,000 people on our mailing list. We, we, we, we, we did our small to a small go fund me campaign and you know, we raised some money and we just never thought that people would actually care. And so we've been encouraged to see that people are, are, are jumping on board.
3 (36m 54s):
Yeah. I think my hope is in Jesus and Jesus. And I think what, you know, again, going back to the theology, I think, well, for people of color, specifically people of color who have suffered racial injustice and you know, for me being a double minority, if you will, a, a systemic injustice, 'cause, I'm a woman right. On in another case, people who are also impoverished, right. That there are all kind of ways that are systemically, the chips are stacked against us, so to speak. Right. And so when that's your reality in it, and you called on the name of Jesus, you call it in the name of Jesus because sometimes that's all you have.
3 (37m 40s):
And so out of that, Jesus has to be who Jesus says that Jesus is. And what the word is, did you use, or are there is no hope for us, right? And so I love that, you know, that we can rely in and depend on the Truth of who God says that God is, and that God has overcome all of the, the, the darkness there are greater is the work of a spirit in me than the work of the evil one that is at work in the world. And then that I have hope, right? That is in this spiritual war that I think you, that's what this is. Write the spiritual warfare that we will reign victorious because of who Jesus is. And because of the hope that we have in God and because of the Holy spirit at work in us.
3 (38m 23s):
And so I would say pay attention, watch for the people who have a theology from the underbelly of theology, from a position, a posture of suffering, because in that you get to, and for people who have called on the name of Jesus, because Jesus has all they had. Right. And I think it, that that is the truth that sets so many of us free. And so I thank God for that.
1 (38m 49s):
All right. Well, I got kicked off when we were talking about Courage and hope. And so unfortunately our hope is not in the internet, but one to answer some of the questions that came up in the chat, some good questions in here. So we'll dive right into those. So a first question is that much of the white church doesn't embrace the, that systemic racism is at the very base of America and is our greatest unconfessed sin. And so this means no Truth telling equal no lament equals no race, no reconciliation. So if you all could speak to that, this idea that there's the, the, the white church doesn't acknowledge or embrace the reality of systemic racism as what the question is asking you.
2 (39m 39s):
So I think, you know, in recent years there's been more division vocal division within the white church about the question of systemic racism, because it's actually being talked about, I think that's actually a good thing that we are asking the question. Is there a, for people who have never even asked it before, is there such a thing as systemic sin and how does it work? I was reading an analogy today about if you are inside a cage and you only look at one line of the cage, then it seems as though what's the problem. Why can't you get out? It's easy to go to the left or to the right.
2 (40m 19s):
But if you look at all of the other bars and the cage and the way in which they are in meshed together, you started to understand why the bird cannot get out of the cage. And I thought that was a portrait of systemic sin, systemic racism, systemic injustice, that sense of all of these different layers piling on top of each other to provide opportunities for some people are not for others. I do think there's a lot of dispute within the church about, and within the white church, especially about whether or not that is real and true. And I do think that without repentance, we are going to say, stay stuck the same time.
2 (41m 2s):
I also think that Jesus does a lot with a little, I mean, a whole lot, right? I mean, th that is, I think about the number of people who come to him with bad theology or no theology who come to him with nothing to offer, but you know, a little basket of food and what he does with that. And I just have to believe that even a small understanding or a really meager, willingness to look at the sin of racism within our society, even as self-righteous, or self-satisfied prospective on all of that, God can do a lot with, even that like with even us as vulnerable and sinful people.
2 (41m 49s):
So I think that the person who is asking the question is right, there's a lot of learning to do for those of you who might be listening and who are thinking, I don't know if I do believe in systemic racism. My, a bequest, my hope for all of us is in a willingness to listen. I can't remember whether it was Ray or Natasha who mentioned just don't explain a way the stories, but actually listened to the stories of your brothers and sisters who are saying I'm dying here. And what does it mean for us to care for one another?
3 (42m 20s):
Yeah. I think I could address this from different vantage points are all of us, are we don't just do the word. We don't just live it in, in some capacity. I mean, just work of Justice, but we are studied. Like we learn, we learned about it. So it just because you are not aware of something, does it mean you can't articulate it? You can't communicate it. Has that been your personal, the vantage point where experience? It doesn't mean that is not a real thing. I'm and so I think that's important to just name and state there. I could address this from a sociology perspective, but it, because of the context of tonight, I was just it from a theological perspective.
3 (43m 4s):
When, when, when, when God gave the Israelites, what we consider the law and what we most pay attention to in a law is as Westerners gets the 10 commandments Wright. And so he gets the 10 commandments in the book of Exodus, chapter 20. And right after that, you know, it basically, God says to the Israelites all throughout the Torah of this law, I'm giving you teach it to your children right on your door, post band it around your neck. So they don't, don't forget the laws way, but God also says, teach it to the aliens in the Sojourner is living among you. Right? And so, and so he saying, we want you, I want you, I want you to take my word and share it with everybody you come in contact with.
3 (43m 50s):
Because even if there are not my chosen people, even if they are not circumcised, if they follow my law, it'll make for a better community, right. They will actually not get sick. If they do the things that I'm telling you to do, they actually might stay married and it might have a healthy relationship. They won't steel stuff, right? They won't murder people if they follow my way. And so, because there are to teachers to everyone. And so what he says is for those who don't follow his way, they'll be curses too. The third and fourth generations go back and read the book. But for those who follow his way, they'll be blessing's for thousands of generations. And so the Bible actually gives us a lot of wisdom. We might not be used in this.
3 (44m 31s):
They not be using the same word that we use today, but the concept and the premise is still the same. Now we know the Bible tells us that God does not punish children for the sense that their parents. So how can they be God? Then also say, they'll be a curse for the third or fourth generation. It, if they don't follow the way, well, what God is saying here. And what's implied really is that if you are a people not individually, but if you are a collective people that don't follow God's way and you teach your children to not follow God's way, they can continue to sin in the same way that you do. And there's consequences for sin. There's always consequences for sin.
3 (45m 12s):
And if you continue to stand, they'll continue to be consequences. And those consequences will carry over generation after generation after generation. And so our worst, but now would be, you know, systemic racism will be one way that sin shows up in the result of that. The trauma of that can trigger systemically, economically, physically, mentally across generations. You know, we, we see evidence, we have research about this stuff. And so the Bible is telling us theologically what we have better language for now, but is the same thing. And Jesus said, and likewise, if you follow my way, God says, as you follow in my way, the blessing is from the obedience will carry on throughout generations as well.
3 (45m 59s):
And so what I will say to people who say, well, you know, I, I don't agree with that. I don't, I don't forget that. I was like, what is the resistance? What does the resistance to finding out one, what it is that's being put on the table for consideration? What does the resistance to not hearing the testimony of your brother, a sister that has a different experience walking this earth and living in this country, then you do. And whether in resisting either the evidence of the research or the, the, the, the, what we've seen happen politically, or the testimony of your brother, a sister, the resistance of that, what does that going to cost you?
3 (46m 40s):
If that's the question that we'll have,
1 (46m 43s):
Thank you. You Natasha, that's a good and Ray, I don't know if you'd want to comment on a song and I, no, I think one of the things that people might be might ask about that question would be, you know, is systemic racism. It's something that comes from more of a, of a political or a sociological ideology, as opposed to something we see, you know, if you're a person of faith that you see in the scriptures or in the kingdom of God,
4 (47m 6s):
You know, I mean, you just go to the Bible and I bet you, if you asked the Israelites, if they were systemically oppressed, they would say, yeah, are you reading the same Bible? We are. We were targeted as entire people groups and put under the thumb of Pharaoh and other empires. I think, you know, Natasha, we went through the whole old Testament. I'll go to the new, I mean, you look at acts six, you know, that one of the first major infants is a, that were addressed within the church. And within the early church was when the hell in this or the Greek Jew or the Greek Christians, a Rose up against, there are a Hebrew brothers and sisters because the widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.
4 (47m 53s):
Right? And so what they identified was that there was a group that was being neglected in the, in the distribution of food for their own community. Now, obviously they could have just left it there and said, okay, you need to pull yourselves up by your own food strategy. And you figured things out on your own, you know, go, you know, to figure things out, you know, but through your, through your, through your other communities that are in your family. But instead of doing that, what they said is what we're going to actually create an entire, a Leadership board. That's going to help with the distribution of things. They identified that there was an entire group of people that were a hell of widows that were being neglected in the, in, in the daily distribution.
4 (48m 36s):
They saw that one group was being treated in a different way. And they saw the inequities and inequalities that he emerged as a result of the way they were being treated. And so they remedied that by creating an allocating resources, to make sure that those people are taking care of. And if you go through the Bible and, you know, I mean, we set it early. He was really, as I said it earlier, you know, it it's, the majority of the scripts are written because a plural you write. And I do think that we lose it in the English and a significant way. 'cause when you study it in the Greek, it's very different, right? It's much more, it resinates much more with umm, kind of a community that come from a more collectivist backgrounds. I think the challenge with people and, and at this point on rate's to them is that everyone wants to define race with them in ways that there are, if that makes it feel that their community does not have to actually deal with it.
4 (49m 25s):
Right. And so, you know, if you define racism as simply someone wearing a hood that has a point he Head and it will be burying, you know, a KKK on the, on there, on their robe when there's not as many racist, even though there aren't, there are still those, there is not as many racist are, there's not as much racism. And as we have to deal with and Russell with a, but if he raised with them, which actually it inherently systemic, it is historically systemic. If you categorize people as superior and inferior, and then it's a trajectory that is filled bearing fruit to this day, then we have to contend with it in different ways that we actually have to go towards it and move towards it, which was what I generally try and encourage people to do it.
4 (50m 12s):
I think that's a challenge to a lot of people struggled with it. It sounds that they have, if they feel responsible too, the issues of racism, racism, and race are responsible for the issues of racism. It's not as responsible to the community that are affected by racism. I think that we need a move from being a responsible for racism, ah, and the existence of It. And then say that we might be responsible to the communities that are impacted and the poor responsible for anything we are responsible for perpetuating the problem that we see.
3 (50m 42s):
Okay, I need to, I want to Eric, I know you probably have other questions, but what is a season of lint? And I think it's very important because you said something that I think is very important for us to hang onto here. So first is I think it was very important that we are careful in how conversations are crafted in this arena and who has the power to craft the conversation and what's important in the conversation, right? So when, when someone says to me, well, systemic racism, is it a political thing as if it's something out there that the church shouldn't be dealing with and talking about, and I will say, yes, it is very much a political thing. Cause systemic racism is very much about who has power and right S rights to actually execute and have dominion in this land that we now occupy.
3 (51m 33s):
So, so the, the whole sociology of racism, the construct of racism determine whether or not indigenous people have rights to, to, to the land that they were already occupied. It has everything to do with when black soldiers came back from war, whether it could actually get, ya know, access to the GI bill will become home owners. It has everything to do with you. You know, how LANs are drawing for boating and for public education. So all of these things by and large are intentionally shaped. It has everything to do with, you know, Japanese Americans being put in concentration camps after world war two, like, like these are very, very intentional acts that were racially charged, politically political Acts.
3 (52m 21s):
And so I think that's very, very important. And because, you know, people may not have the knowledge about that. Again does not mean that those things did not happen. It didn't do not exist and there are not still happening in our country. So I think part of our work in discipling ourselves out of our lack of knowledge is actually getting knowledgeable about what actually is happening and an understanding of our history and understanding the laws and the policies that we are impacting and not just the people or the candidates or the part is that we think we're supporting. So I think that's really, really important to name and respond to that question, but I want it to speak about Jesus because we're in a seat in the, of the lands, right? When a season of lent and the crucifixion is a political act, it is a political act in what we see in the crucifixion is the, the, the marriage of a, a religious sense of people who are accused Jesus of blasts for me.
3 (53m 23s):
And they used the language of the state saying, this guy says that he is King of the Jews when you can not have two Kings occupying one territory, right? If Jesus says he's King in a territory that sees are occupies, that's a problem. And the religious leaders knew that. And so what you had was religious leaders finding Jesus guilty of something. The political state pallet said, I don't have anything that I find him guilty of, but when he puts the boat to the people, they choose a criminal or what our Lord who was innocent. And so I don't think we have a better example.
3 (54m 5s):
Oh, what happens? And the danger, Oh, what happens is when we take our religious philosophies that are not right and marry it to a political mine that has the power to the side who has the right to live in, who does it, what you get is a crucifixion of our Lord.
1 (54m 29s):
Well, thank you. And I think we have time maybe for one more question and a Natasha you've just mentioned discipleship. And there is a question about that, about what it means to be a disciple, to be a follower of Christ in a society that's marked by racism. And an interesting twist to it is that different now than it was a year ago. So some thoughts from you all,
3 (54m 56s):
I took a long time and I'm like, I'm going to give you two sentences. I will say this. If you are committed to this work, it is a journey. It is a journey of people who are committed to this. I say this as an act of discipleship, which means is not something that I'm doing out there just as work is not something that I'm doing out there on the side when I'm actually doing the other important Christian ministry, Jesus work on Wednesdays and Tuesdays in Sunday morning, right? That's not how I live my life. It is a part of my discipleship because I am a follower of Jesus. I do this work. And I understand for as long as I'm here on this earth, in this fall and land that I'm going to always do this work until Jesus comes back. And so I think that's a very important, this is not an event.
3 (55m 36s):
It is not a book. It is not, you know, it is not a one and done. It is a part of my discipleship is a part of my spiritual formation. And for people who really understand that, I just want you to understand that the cost and that's the commitment, Julia.
2 (55m 55s):
Yeah. I mean, a couple of things coming to mind, one is a Tim Keller has a book called ChoGenerous Justice. And I think it's in there that he says that the way God introduces himself often is as the defender of widows and orphans, it's like, hi, I'm God defenders, widows, and orphans to where you, you know, and that sense of if we are following Jesus, then we will be, as I said earlier, proactively engaged, caring for the most vulnerable among us. That said, I think that is going to take shape in different ways. We even heard earlier this evening that they are from the different people who talked about local initiatives in Raleigh, that God has put different ways to care for people who are in need on different people.
2 (56m 43s):
For me, one of the ways I've thought about this has been as a holistic response to the healing work of God in the world. I want to use my Head, my heart and my hands. And so the head is just to learn, I mean, what Natasha was saying, what Ray has been saying, like there's so much to learn about different issues about the history of things, the context. So get the information, whether it's by going to the racial equity Institute or reading a book or listening to podcasts or watching videos, So information, but then the heart is getting the spiritual sustenance that we need in order to be able to engage with the wounds of the world. That I love what Ray has been saying about moving towards division, which is exactly what Jesus did.
2 (57m 25s):
He went to the hurting places. So again, in the spiritual sustenance we need, but also the heart connection in relationships of humble listening and a reciprocal Love of giving and receiving with other people, either those who are like-minded and like-hearted, or those were different from us about who we know that we can learn from, because they're our fellow image bearers of who God is. And then the Hands is like, go do something and get, get involved, take the next small step. I mean the smallest step. Again, God can do so much with so little when we offer it. So head heart hands is the other way. I think about my discipleship when it comes to areas. Well, in general, but especially as we talk about Justice.
4 (58m 7s):
Yeah. I mean, I would add, I would completely agree with that. Both are saying, and I would say that for some people, nothing has changed, right? I mean, people are still saying the same thing that they were saying before a year ago. I mean, I still remember what it was like in LA in 1992, people were, were, were, were kinda talking about it, especially African-Americans were talking about how police brutality was real and nobody believed them. And for years, for decades, people are saying we stop hurting our community unnecessarily, attacking our communities, not abusing our community. It wasn't until Rodney King, the video in 1992 that FARC the LA riots that, that, that, that everything that the African-American community was talking about for decades and w for them, they were like, well, every everyone else has just waking up to it.
4 (59m 4s):
And so I get through, depending on who we're talking about, but for some communities, you know, like the conversation has been the same. Ah, and we were just kind of talking about the ways that kind of racism has evolved. I do think on the other hand, for those who are kind of newly, we had an opening their eyes too, kind of what's going on. It's important to take a posture of humility in a posture of learning. You know, I think that there is going to, we, we can always find our echo chambers in which our biases can be continuously confirmed or were, we can find those who challenge the way that we think and the things that we've kind of grown accustomed to believing.
4 (59m 45s):
And I think there's a great load of a text out there and resources that people can, can tap into. But I think there's a couple questions that people should ask themselves. And how do I actually affirm the model day in every human, right? Especially those who are different from me. Do I actually believe that they bear God's image and, and who is the neighbor that I tend to discard to walk by, to want to overlook as I'm going through this journey of life? I think there's something profound too. The, the, the, the parallel of the good Samaritan, there's a reason why Martin Luther King Jr. Breached on its own effectively.
4 (1h 0m 25s):
And the question of who that is, my neighbor is a significant one that we have, we often act, and we basically try to say, well, this person is not my neighbor. And so I don't have to love them. And then the other piece, I think that's, that's helpful when it comes to the kinds of the recent conversations and especially is if they know what you know, of being very clear with where we stand. I think that there's a lot of, especially if you're a Christian leader, there's a lot of questions about where are you actually done on a couple of things. And so you'll see organizations like the Witness, black Christian collective, they have a little campaign that's basically saying, lets let us leave loud because they're hearing so many stories of black Christians who have been in predominantly white evangelical spaces that I've been so hurt.
4 (1h 1m 16s):
So traumatized spiritually devastated that they're real, that there are sensing that people need the lead loud so that they can warn other Christians of color about the potential damage that we'll come through their souls by entering into some of the spaces. And so I think that we have to kind of be clear with where we stand in our commitments to issues of racial justice so that others, especially communities of color can, can I hold us accountable to the things that were committed to that is rooted in the scripture and rooted in a vision of a kingdom and if were not really interested in doing that, I think that's even a, that would even be helpful to, for people to know that as well, because I get a lot of calls on a regular base to say, Hey, do you know of a church that I can go to in this area?
4 (1h 2m 4s):
And I don't always have an answer because I don't know where they stand it. Especially if it's, if it's the Christian of color who is looking for and more multi-ethnic diverse community of if that's the space that they are going to go in and flourish or a two to three years, they are going to Peter out because they're burned out and they've
6 (1h 2m 20s):
Been burned by that by, by the, by the source of community because of ah, kind of a lot of a lack of racial equity and a lack of willingness to engage in racial justice. Let's get lens. Thank you. You too. All three of you. And I really appreciate you describing them in a Heart and not easy things. Not all easy stuff, but things that are important to us. If we say we're followers of Jesus, all of these things relate to them. So thank you all. That's good.
0 (1h 2m 52s):
Oh God, you made us in your own image and you have redeemed as through your son, Jesus Christ. Look what compassion and you hope on the whole human family to take away the arrogant hatred, which in fact, our hurt brick down the walls that separate us, you know, in Boulder of love and worked through our struggle and confusion to accomplish our purposes on earth. That in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne. God, they made us in your own image, right? And that's grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with them and help us to use our freedom rightly and the establishment of justice in our communities and among the nations to the glory of your Holy name increase, Oh God, the spirit of neighborliness among us that imperil, we may uphold one another and suffering tend to one another.
0 (1h 3m 56s):
And in homelessness, loneliness are exiled. The friend wanted to not give us a brave and enduring parts that we may strengthen one another until your Kingdom becomes reality through Jesus Christ. Our Lord. Amen. Thanks so much for listening to Love is stronger than Fear. This event is sponsored by the center for Christianity and scholarship at Duke university and by the church of the apostles in Raleigh, North Carolina, do you check the show notes for the many references that were flying around throughout this conversation? And I'd love to know what this conversation made. Do you think about it in the past few months, I've been so encouraged to hear from you about the issues, the episodes that have moved you and challenged you.
0 (1h 4m 39s):
And I just want you to say, thank you, thank you for listening and sharing and for responding to me, I love hearing from you. So please keep those comments coming as always, I want to say thank you to Jake Hansen for editing the Podcast and to Amber Berry for doing everything else associated with getting this out into the world. Next week, I'll be talking about immigration with Brie Stensrud. The director of women have welcomes. I hope you'll join us for that. And finally, as you go into your day today and I hope you will carry with you that peace that comes from believing that love is stronger and Fear.