Am I Racist?
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12
Recent tragic, racially charged events in my state have caused me to question my own views on race. I’m not racist, is my first thought. No one thinks their racist though. Racism, by definition, is a flawed viewpoint, and so, even white supremacists claim not to be racist. Still, I’m not racist, am I? I’ve realized through a lot of trial and error that my first thought is often wrong, so I’ve had to push through my objections and consider the possibility that I might be blind to my own defective views.
When I was maybe 14 or 15, I heard a racist joke. I didn’t think it was racist at the time. I thought it was funny, and so, I repeated it. Some laughed, but one classmate angrily objected. She was the resident liberal progressive, so I ignored her. She had the right of it though. If I were forced to print that joke here, I would be mortified, and if more people read this blog, I’d be inundated with hate mail. It was a horrible joke and I’m now ashamed I ever told it.
I was a stupid kid though. I shouldn’t feel guilty about something I did more than 30 years ago. I’m not racist now. When I first started volunteering at the local jail a few years ago, the first two guys who wanted to meet were two very large, very intimidating men. If I’m honest, I must admit that my initial fear of them had at least something to do with the fact that their skin color was different than mine. Wait. Am I racist?
In examining my profoundly self-centered view of the world, it’s probably a safer question to ask, How am I racist? What bigoted views do I still harbor? I don’t want to do this though, because it’s uncomfortable and It’s not my problem.
My apathy however, is part of the problem. Sitting in largely-white West-Central Minnesota, a couple hours away from the death, protests, and rioting, it’s easy to feel that this just isn’t my issue. Still, in today’s passage, Jesus insisted that I must love those around me as he has loved me. God’s word always has some application to my immediate life, even if I don’t want to think of this as my problem.
Maybe I’m not directly responsible for what’s going on in the cities. I’m absolutely responsible though, for how I treat my neighbor, whose skin happens to be a different color. As God has loved me, his love must flow out of me into those lives around me. If I I’m hesitant to love because of race, then I need to admit that ugliness within me and I must kill it. One of the best ways to kill my prejudiced views is simply to get to know those I might see as different. Kindness, friendship, and love are deadly to bigotry.
I can’t necessarily change the world, but I can affect my little corner of it. I can, if I’m honest, admit my own flaws and love those whom God has put in my life. Can you imagine what God would do in our communities if we’d all follow his command to love our neighbors? This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.