Racism- I’m sorry it took me so long
I will never forget the first time I realized racism was real in America.
I was 21 years old, a youth pastor and was sitting on the porch of the parsonage when one of the church board members was mowing the lawn. Walking across the church lawn, I said “Hello,” and asked Mr. —- how he was doing. His response shook me to the core. He turned to me and said, “I just don’t understand why that ‘n___g__’ is running for president.” Mr. —- then continued with a ten-minute racist rant including language I had never heard in person before.
I had read about the civil war and the civil rights movement but to my embarrassment didn’t “really think” people still thought that way. Or if they did, they were the crazy extremist and not people who went to my church. Here I was on the front lawn of the church listening to this “Bible believing board member” demean another person for the color of their skin.
So, what did I do? Nothing.
I just stood there and listened as he continued his horrific, non-biblical racist oration. To this day I get sick to my stomach thinking about how I did/said nothing. Blatant sin was happening right before my eyes, and I did nothing. Now, all I can say is I’m sorry.
But why am I sorry? Yes, I’m sorry for not saying something at that moment. I’m sorry I didn’t stand up and have the courage to speak against injustice and sin. I’m sorry I missed an opportunity to be bold and condemn someone tearing down a child of God, made in the image of God. But I’m sorry for so much more.
I’m sorry it took me so long. I’m sorry that it took me 21 years and an in-person experience to see the terrible, ungodly racism that is in our country.
I’m sorry I didn’t have enough empathy and perspective to see what was going on around me. I couldn’t look beyond my own “white” experience to see the presence of racism and its deep roots within our nation. I’m sorry I didn’t take the time to look. I’m sorry it took me so long.
You might be thinking, “You were young and grew up surrounded by people just like you. You should not feel sorry for not seeing something that wasn’t around you.” I think that blind spot that is exactly the issue. It was around me, and I missed it. I never looked at the world from any perspective but my own. I thought the problem of racism affected “another group,” and therefore it didn’t affect me.
My sin was my self-centered view of the world. I only saw the world through my eyes, through my experience. I was selfish.
To See the World Through Jesus’ Eyes
I am a Christian, and therefore I have the unique opportunity and responsibility to Jesus to see the world through His eyes. My call as a follower of Jesus is to become more like Him, and this includes how I see the world around me: to see the world through Jesus’ eyes, to see people through Jesus’ eyes, to see the events of this world through Jesus’ eyes. I’m called to deny myself, my selfishness and see people the way Jesus sees them, as His children who are fearfully and wonderfully made (John 1, Psalm 139, Philippians 2 ). I’m sorry it took me 21 years to see people and injustice the way Jesus sees it.
Over the last few weeks, this country’s issue of racism has been on full display. What’s going on in Charlottesville, VA is not an isolated problem. Racism is a national and global problem. Let me encourage you not just to look once and turn away, but to ask the Spirit of God to give you the eyes to see what Jesus sees.
Ask God to open your eyes to what is happening not only in the physical world but also in the spiritual world. What does Jesus see? What breaks His heart?
To all of my brothers and sisters that don’t look like me. I’m sorry it took me 21 years to see what you see. I’m sorry I had to have an in-person experience with racism to admit it is still very real. I refuse to be silent now. I’m sorry it took me so long.
A few resources to consider:
Let Justice Roll Down by Dr. John Perkins.
Multiethnic Conversations by Mark DeYmaz and Oneya Fennell Okuwobi
Divided by Faith by Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith