I saw a social media post recently that made racial reconciliation sound like a political issue. I don’t think so. It’s about right versus wrong more than right versus left. Race issues are complicated, and everyone has an opinion. I’ve witnessed the carnage as opinions are vomited onto my screen. I get it, but this problem cannot be solved while so many people refuse to engage in meaningful conversation. I hope to shed some light on how to respond in anxious times by sharing three points that have helped me.
It’s not about picking sides.
Remember Red Rover? The only part of that game I loathed was picking sides. I always felt conflicted about picking the best players versus picking my best friends who might be weaker teammates. That dilemma doesn’t end on the playground. It continues well into adulthood into arenas far more complicated than a heated Red Rover battle.
As a result, we can fall into the trap of picking one hard stance over another. Fine for a game, but this is real life. This is about equality and justice. If we understood the difference between winning a competition and facing real-world troubles, it would enable us to focus on solutions rather than the problems. Recognize that drawing a line in the sand based on skin color, political party or deeply ingrained prejudices is unhelpful and destructive.
Be quick to listen.
I love being right as much as the next person. That’s fine for arguing about sports teams. It’s unwise when talking about unity, diversity and racial inequality. If you get your information from people only like you, you’re going to jump to inaccurate and misinformed conclusions.
Listening to people with different perspectives has helped me. When we listen, we learn. I can think of hundreds of times I’ve heard something I didn’t know because my mouth was closed and my ears were open. Listening doesn’t mean we accept everything we hear as truth. But to be reasonable, we have to learn to modify our own ideas if that’s what the truth requires.
Proverbs 18:2: “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” I could continue living in the suburbs and pretending we don’t have a problem, but that’s not true. I think we’re moving in the right direction in many arenas, but we still have a long way to go. As humans, we automatically are suspicious of people who aren’t like us. We must work constantly to rid our hearts of such poisonous ideas.
Our cultural differences might distinguish us, but they don’t have to define us, and they shouldn’t divide us.
– Pastor J.R. Lee is husband to Devin; dad to Lexi, London and Bryce; and pastor to Freedom Church. You can catch up with him on Instagram at @PastorJRLee, Twitter at @JRLee or on Freedom Church’s YouTube Channel.