By Beth Ann Baus, Crosswalk.com
As conversations about racial tension surface I find myself, as a middle-aged white woman, increasingly discouraged. Not because of the topic at hand, but by the way my brothers and sisters in Christ are using their words to tear down instead of build up.
This is a time when we should be reflecting the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. But instead, I’m reminded of how deep our sin runs and how easily we’re distracted from what should be our main focus: the gospel.
Don’t get me wrong--there has been an outpouring of love, confession, and repentance from many people, and I pray that continues. My focus today, however, is on those who are causing division and pouring salt on very deep, overlooked wounds.
Because, in many cases, this is happening unintentionally, we should all stop to ask ourselves if we are one of these people?
Let's Examine Ourselves
Even if we’re convinced we’re speaking truth, are we speaking in love? Are our words being used to build others up as directed in Ephesians 4:29? What are our words revealing about what’s in our hearts (Matthew 12:34)? If we asked a black brother or sister how they felt about the words we’re speaking, what might they say? Would we be willing to change our words (and our thinking) if they said our words were hurtful?
While we pray for the hearts of unbelievers and those who openly vocalize their hate and prejudice, we must also pray for our own hearts; that the Spirit would bring about lasting change that would overflow from our hearts into our words and actions.
We must be willing to examine ourselves, ask the Lord to search our hearts (Psalm 139:23-24) and ask those around us to point out our blind spots. Then, we must be willing to make changes if what we find doesn’t reflect our faith in Jesus Christ.
I have personally asked the Lord to show me my blind spots. I’ve had to repent of my own prejudices, my own ignorance, and my own indifference. This is a topic that requires more than a onetime prayer and I will continue to ask God to show me where I’m wrong (in my thoughts, words, and deeds), where I need to have a soft heart, where I can do better as an image bearer, and how I can consciously be a part of the solution, not the problem.
This topic requires great humility on all our parts. Please know this prayer is for me as much as it is for anyone else.
Will you pray with me?
It is with heavy hearts that we come before you. Our world is so wrought with sin. We know that you are grieved, as are we, by the hate, prejudice, and injustices that the black community is experiencing. Remind us, Lord, that these hurts are not just a result of recent events, but from a long history of evil acts. We pray for racial healing, reconciliation, and justice for our black brothers and sisters and those in every minority.
Remind us, Lord, of Romans 12:15; we are to mourn with those who mourn. Stand guard over our lips when we are tempted to ask our black brothers and sisters to justify their mourning! Stop us from assuming. Stop us from drawing our own conclusions before we have all the information.
Remind us to turn off the news and talk to real people, ask questions, and listen. Give us a genuine love for people - for all people - and a genuine interest in what burdens them. And, should it be that we are unknowingly adding to their burden, give us humble hearts that are willing to ask for forgiveness and then to ask how we can help bear the burden, not make the load heavier.
Put Philippians 2:4 on our hearts as we start each day and remind us to focus, not on our own interests, but on the interests of others. We are surrounded by people who are crying out, saying their interests have been ignored and rejected; and as a result, they feel their lives don’t matter.
Father, may it never be said of your children that we value the lives of one people group over another. Soften our hearts to hear the cries of the black community and keep us from responding with political views, or from quoting headlines that claim racism doesn’t exist.
Remind us that blanket statements are dangerous and unhelpful. Remind us that one person’s story or viewpoint doesn’t apply to every person. Remind us that more than one thing can be true and that in order to be for one thing, doesn't’ mean we have to be against another thing.
Father, we can see an interview with one black person who claims to have never been subject to racism and we can see another interview with a black person who claims to deal with prejudice every day. Remind us that both can be true.
Remind us that no two people have the same experience. Remind us to rejoice with those who have never been mistreated and to mourn with those who have. And, Lord, hold our tongues when we want to share our stories about how we, as white people, have also been subject to racism. Remind us that we are not the point of the conversation that is trying to be had. Oh, Lord give us ears to hear.
Remind us that different generations come to the table with different perspectives. We all come to the table with our own unique experiences that have shaped our thinking. But, let us not neglect the table. Let us come together in love, ready to listen, discuss, and heal. Let us put aside our own agendas and take on YOUR agenda; to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Father, make us ever aware of our online presence and the fact that we are representing you, even on social media. Remind us that our comments to others posts are not real conversations; but rather a breeding ground for misunderstandings and a lingering temptation to say things we would never say to someone’s face. Stand guard over our typing fingers.
Remind us to consider your Word before we make posts on social media. We don’t always realize the damage we’re doing and the hurt we’re causing by our posts. Lord, allow your Spirit to move in us, to prick our consciences, to convict us when we post or share without considering the implications of the words or images we’re putting out there. May love for others motivate our posts, not anger, arrogance, or ignorance.
Lord, you know the fear that is consuming so many right now as we see rioting, looting, destruction of private property, and violence against innocent bystanders. We ask that you would turn these hearts of stone to flesh. We beg you to open their eyes so that, instead of being deceived by the enemy, they would be consumed by you.
Help us to not lump an entire people group in with a specific group that is causing mayhem. Remind us that the anger we see displayed in some is not present in everyone. We pray for unity. We pray for justice. We pray for healing. We pray for those who have just cause to be taking a stand during this time, and for those who are taking advantage of the situation.
And when we speak of those who are acting out unjustly, regardless of the color of their skin, remind us to first speak to you because you and you alone change hearts, not our slanderous posts or conversations with others.
As businesses make decisions to rebrand products that they fear might be offensive, let us rejoice that people are taking notice of a bigger problem, rather than tearing them down and assuming we know the real intentions behind their actions.
Let us support businesses and individuals who are willing to make changes for the sake of others, let us follow their examples and examine our own lives rather than name-calling and shaming them for “giving in to pressure.” May we all feel the pressure and let it change us for the better.
Show us, Lord, how arrogant we are when we speak without first listening, when we tell someone their life isn’t as hard as they make it out to be, or that they should just be thankful things aren’t as bad as they used to be. Convict us on how hurtful we are when we start talking statistics rather than simply offering a warm embrace or an encouraging word.
Oh Lord, forgive us for our arrogance. Forgive us for our foolishness. Forgive us for turning a blind eye and being content with our ignorance. Forgive us of our sins, both intentional and unintentional. Have mercy on us, and teach us how to extend that mercy to others in these trying times.
Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord. Root and ground us in your love that we may be filled with the fullness of God.
In Jesus name, Amen.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Fizkes
Beth Ann Baus is a wife and homeschooling mom of two boys. She is a freelance writer and author of novels, Sister Sunday and My So Much More. In her writing, Beth often pulls from her own experiences of abuse, anxiety, depression and OCD. Beth has a heart for women’s ministry and is in the process of becoming a certified Biblical Counselor. She loves serving alongside her husband and pointing couples to the Word for strengthening their marriages and home life. You can find more from her at www.bethannbaus.com.