I took off work on Friday to attend a conference at our church Portico. The conference was called One and it was on the topic of racial reconciliation. I grew up in Texas and the racial divides were there but not super tense in my life. It was not until I moved to Dallas and became a teacher of primarily hispanic children that I understood racial divides.
The conference had some main focuses. The first speaker preached Jonah. He talked about how unrepentent and bitter he was. Jonah refused to go to Ninevah. God had to call a fish to swallow him to take him there. Then, after he was vomited out onto dry land Jonah sat down. God's first word to him was Arise-- Jonah was stubborn. The speaker, Eric Mason, said Jonah would rather die than repent. Eric said we get that way and that is not what God wants for us. He wants us to have joy in Christ and not bitterness because we refuse to repent of the sin that is in us. Jonah saw the entire city of Ninevah turn to follow Christ, yet he still did not follow Christ in his heart. The people he hated were repenting better than he was.
There was a Q&A session that was awesome. I was really convicted about memorizing scripture. The pastors could spout it out and it was obvious they had spent a lot of time chewing on the words of scripture. Amoung the verses brought up was Matthew 6:1--Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Derek Mondeau recommended the book Being White to help white folks to realize things about race. Things that we don't think about and are ignorant of.
The last session was Derek. He talked more topically how we should go about being unified in the gospel-- even transcending race. His first point was that we model the incarnation of Christ when we model humility. Point 2-There are 45,000 denominations in America today-- the body of Christ is not unified. Point 3- Listen to people! Surrender our pride and power to dwell with other people. Christ did this. He was born in the likeness of man but was God. Pretty humbling. He said that we are really pragmatic- task oriented. Jesus was on earth 30 years before he started his ministry of 3 years. It would have been more pragmatic to be here 3 years and then minister for 30. Then he stopped himself and said-- how silly that was. Jesus offered atonement for our sins and the redemption of man. He came what he was sent to do. He didn't need 30 years, he only needed 3. Things take time and should not be forced. We should not be so consumed by our lists of things to do that we lose sight of who we are, who God is, and who other people are.
A couple more books were suggested: One Body, One Spirit and Obedient Unto Death
One last story that broke my heart.Eric's father lived in Jim Crow South Carolina. It was so bad for him that he joined WWII to get out of it. He fought bravely and was wounded in action during the war. When it was all over, he and his all black unit came home and participated in a victory parade. During the parade white folks from his hometown spit on him and his unit.
I am about to start teaching Jim Crow and Massive Resistance at school with our curriculum. Please pray for me. I want to share personal stories from all sides and around Charlottesville. It is going to be a tough topic, but a good one to learn from. I would love for my kids to gain not just knowledge but some wisdom from this time period.