“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”~ James 2:12-13
Unity in Christ
Outrage. Disgust. Terror. Desperation for the return of Christ. These are just a few reactions I’ve heard, and had, in response to reports of violence in our nation, a far cry from the mercy described in the book of James.
I am a white woman and a granddaughter to two military colonels. To say my family has a sincere regard towards those who serve our country in uniform would be an understatement. I am also an adoptive mother of an African-American son. I will admit that fear floods my heart when I see on the news that our culture seems to be drawing a line in the sand and picking sides that leave no option for a blended-race family.
At first, I didn’t know how to respond to the many tragedies that have occurred as a result of racial tension. My limited perspective as the mother of an infant black son carries a sense of embarrassment because I know this is not a new issue for many other women.
But I am his mom, and with God’s grace, I have to face my own blind spots.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).
At church a few Sundays ago, something clicked in my heart. The pastor asked us to turn to our neighbor and pray for our nation. I joined hands with the woman next to me and began to pray. She started praying for her son whom she mentioned serves as a police officer. The fear she was feeling for his life was apparent in her voice and tone. I took a deep breath and began to pray for my son and the fear I feel for him growing up in a white family that has never experienced racial prejudice or oppression. This woman and I looked up at each other, and there was this realization that we’re both just scared moms, but that we’re on the same team. We squeezed hands and sat back in our seats.
“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and…you will find rest for your souls…for my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Fear can be an effective tactic of the enemy if we allow it to be. If we stay afraid, we remain divided. So, the enemy is on a mission to keep us scared. Our natural reaction to feeling threatened is called “fight or flight” by which we either pursue our justice in anger, or we hide and isolate ourselves (Been there!). But God’s ways are higher than our ways, and there is so much freedom in choosing forgiveness, peace, and mercy, just as Christ did while being crucified.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
The paradoxical nature of Scripture leaves no room for rigid legalism. God is not asking us to sit on our hands. On the contrary, He calls us to do something! The apostle Paul reminds us that we are no longer circumcised and uncircumcised, but that we can experience radical unity because Jesus died for us. Peace requires us to surrender our right to be justified and own what we can in repentance.
“Great faith doesn’t come out of great effort, but out of great surrender. Faith doesn’t deny a problem’s existence. It denies it a place of influence.” – Pastor Bill Johnson
There’s good news: the Father of all nations is just a prayer away. In a posture of humility, ask the Lord to search your heart for misunderstanding or unforgiveness. Hurt people respond by hurting other people, so it is imperative that we tend to the garden of our hearts. The Holy Spirit will help us understand and heal. If the news is causing you to fear or stir up an offense, turn it off and ask God to share with you His hope-filling news!
Seek to understand. Love and listen to someone different. We all have a unique story. We must not assume we know where other people are coming from when they speak up about hard issues. Sisters, let’s not let fear keep us silent. Let’s be brave. Let’s ask more questions and offer fewer opinions. Let’s be known for our love and amazing testimonies of reconciliation.
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