The Subject of Race
Discussing race is an oddly comfortable subject for me to talk about. Race is also a subject that I am frequently annoyed hearing about. My college major was sociology, where the three main topics discussed, were race, class, and gender.
Over time I learned about the complexities of race and the impact it has on everyday life. It became a frustrating problem to hear someone’s skewed view and not know where to begin in gently carrying out a productive conversation. When One Church began the series #NoFilter in August, I scoped out the nearest door in case I decided to bail on the service. What I expected Greg to say was; ‘Race is socially constructed.’ ‘Don’t be a racist jerk.’ Then he would quote something really wise Jesus said and if he had really done his homework talk about systemic oppression. I’ve been at One Church long enough to know, I should have known better.
“Don’t be a racist jerk!”
After studying race for so long in an academic setting, I tried to distant my heart from the statistics and stories. The headlines in the news about race became a nuisance in my day rather than fuel to love even more. It wasn’t that my heart was no longer involved, it’s that I began to believe there was nothing I could do about a big problem. Seeing the issue from a helpless standpoint created hopelessness in me and I don’t like feeling hopeless. I knew the problem was so broken and complicated, I didn’t know where to start to help fix it. Consequently, I shut my heart down as much as possible and looked at the issue from a scientific standpoint.
“The headlines in the news about race became a nuisance in my day rather than fuel to love even more. It wasn’t that my heart was no longer involved, it’s that I began to believe there was nothing I could do about a BIG problem.”
There is Nothing Off Limit in Prayer
When Pastor Greg spoke about race the first Sunday of the #NoFilter series he mentioned praying about race struggles. It was then that it seemed like my head went to shake my heart awake from its slumber. There was something I could do, I could pray. Praying is an obvious answer and the most powerful thing we are capable of, but I frequently overlook that it as an option. The bible tells us; In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. It’s saying pray about everything (English Standard Version, Phil. 4.6). It is not saying, pray about the stuff you think God isn’t annoyed by. It’s not saying, pray about what you believe God will fix in the next couple of days. It is saying, there is absolutely nothing off limits when coming to God with a request. This includes big problems we can’t see fully around like racial tension.
As the church, we are responsible to love others so we can demonstrate God’s love. A simple way we can do that is by praying. We can begin by asking God for a clean heart to remove the skewed views that we knowingly and unknowingly carry with us. The simple act of removing the dirt from our own hearts and minds will stop us from transmitting the broken beliefs to others. If we can look at others with a clean heart it will prevent us from hurting others and give us the ability to love others more like Christ.
“This means there is something we can do about the racial tension. Hope is not lost.”
Praying is such a simple and huge act. Through prayer, we can transform our thoughts and hearts. Slowly we will chip away at beliefs and preconceived notions we carry about race. This means there is something we can do about the racial tension. Hope is not lost. Race issues are complex and big. Our confidence in God’s truth is bigger.
written by: Samantha Warner, October 2016
Samantha is a Michigan native who was adopted by Ohio several years ago. Samantha writes content marketing and product descriptions. She holds a BA in Sociology from The Ohio State University.