Monday, September 22, 2014

Drawing Lines in the Sand

Buzzfeed has some great articles. Funny, informative, a good way to waste time, you know how it goes. The articles are pop-culture, they are a good read on what culture is saying, opinions and perspectives, what is important to us and what messages are being passed around.

A most recent message, and trending hashtag/topic, is "things white girls do." I know it seems funny, and is meant to be lighthearted. It's satire and sarcasm...usually. Sometimes. But the reality of this hashtag is it simply puts up more walls, builds barriers meant to be broken. Barriers we say were broken years ago when slavery was "abolished" and segregation apparently just evaporated. But a generalization like "things white girls do" is segregation. It puts me as different from you. It makes assumptions. It excludes.

Many of these things white girls do or like include Starbucks, iPhones, eating junk food, wearing leggings and boots, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and such. This assumes all white girls own or care about or enjoy these things, and that no other gender or race does, unless they are "channeling their inner white girl." I did read that on a blog somewhere. Well, I don't love Starbucks more than my mother and I'd rather drink tea than something with more calories than a meal. I must not be white...or a girl.

This "white girl status" and "things white girls do" has got to stop. We can't reconcile when we're constantly drawing lines in the sand.

Reconcile? Wait. What? That got deep...we were just having fun. Making jokes. Stereotypes aren't racism because they're just generalities, right? When we meet someone for real, we'll get to know them instead of making assumptions. It's all fun and games, why are you making a big deal about this?

It's all fun and games, until someone gets hurt. And a lot of people have been hurt, for thousands of years people have been hurt. If you had the chance to change that, or at least lessen the pain, would you?

There's no easy fix to systematic racism, to gender inequality, to an I'm-better-than-you-because mentality. But if you could do something, would you?

It has to stop being about color and race. Why can't I like Starbucks because I just like Starbucks? Rap, dancing, anime, math, cars, beer, rice, running, sports, weightlifting, yoga, whatever, just because I like them?

We laugh about being PC. Too politically correct is scoffed at, because why are we trying to hard to make everyone happy? Why can't we all just lighten up? Forget the past, move on, you're being too sensitive. Or we use the excuse, "no one will hear." "It's just us guys." Or, "I wouldn't say that if a ______ person were here."

What you say in private is what you believe. And if what you say in public is different from the conversations you have in the safety of your home or innermost circles, then you're simply wearing a mask and displaying a facade. Speak words that anyone could hear and feel loved, accepted, unjudged and welcome. If you are making those jokes in private, it speaks clearly to the prejudice (and potentially unknown/defined racism, sexism, etc) residing in your heart.

(And as a side note, if everyone in your innermost circle looks, sounds, speaks, dresses and smells just like you...well that's a problem too. I once heard someone say that you only have to go so far as looking at the people around your dinner table to know if you live a life that is diverse).

My mom always taught me, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." I firmly believe being politically correct is one of the most loving things I can do, or say. We have politically correct terms because someone was hurt by the other ones. And if someone was so hurt by those words, shouldn't I do everything in my power not to say them? Why for my own validation or "freedom of speech" should I say something I recognize could throw salt in a long-festering wound?

I have the legal freedom to say just about anything I please. And with that freedom I will choose not to speak if it will offend my brothers and my sisters.

And I believe that being politically correct is the most Christ-like thing I can do. No, Jesus didn't conform to the world, to the political or social structure of His day, but He loved the world. He met people where they were at. He called them by name, and I think that would include using the politically correct term. Saying "Indian" versus "Native American" or "American Indian" may not seem like a big deal. But that's because I haven't experienced the injustice and discrimination those of that race and background have suffered.

The reality is if we want to be part of reconciling our world, restoring the peace God intended, and reconciling race, gender and the like, then we have to make some sacrifices. We all have to make some sacrifices, no matter what race, gender or socioeconomic status you fall under. But the reality is if you are of the majority culture (white), then you are especially tasked with being part of the change. How can you truly love your neighbor as yourself?

Sacrifice means taking the time to listen to someone's personal experience, validate their story and seek to understand their perspective. No excuses, no "you're being too sensitive," just listen. It means being politically correct. It means not making certain jokes, I don't care if it's "all fun and games." It means not watching some TV shows or movies because of the messages being preached. It means thinking before speaking or Tweeting, and I mean really thinking.

It means living in a way that demands an explanation. Live differently. Because Someone lived to die so you could live fully and living fully includes loving endlessly those around us. 

A world restored and reconciled is no easy task. It's a world we will never fully experience because of the reality of sin and brokenness. But just because we can't have perfect peace until the end of the earth doesn't mean we shouldn't strive for it.

The entire Bible speaks of reconciliation. It's a deep desire of the Lord's heart. So deep He sacrificed His only Son to make a wretch His treasure. Jesus reconciled us to God. We could have no relationship with Him without Christ's blood making us clean. And we reflect that sacrifice by being reconciled to those around us. Being part of God's redemption of this world, the Kingdom here on earth. Loving your brother and your sister not because of who they are or what they've done, but because of who Jesus is and what He has done. Because we are all precious bits of clay, beautiful in the eyes of the Maker.

We all have infinite worth because we are children of the King.

Revelation 7:9 is one of the most beautiful passages in scripture. It brings tears to my eyes in hopeful anticipation of the promised perfect restoration of our world.

"After this I looked, 
and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, 
from every nation, tribe, people and language
standing before the throne and before the Lamb. 
They were wearing white robes 
and were holding palm branches in their hands."

Every nation. Every tribe. Every people. Every language. Standing before the throne. Oh, the beauty of this vision. All together as one, worshiping the King. Because it isn't about the color of your skin, what scars and stories you bear, the talents you posses, the gifts that you bring. It's about His skin being torn and pieced, bruised and bloodied for our sins. The sins we all bring. His love makes us one. A great multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language before the throne of grace. And that is a beautiful picture of a day far off, but it can also be a vision for today. 

So let us all be part of that vision, every nation, tribe and tongue. Seek to listen, learn and love, just like a certain Savior does for us.

Dance with the Divine

Whispered beckons 

Arms held wide

an invitation

Join the dance

Heart filled of wonder at
love without restraint 
Calling softly
I long to dance
with you

A dance with the Creator,
with the Divine

More glory
can never be imagined than
what's found in the
of release

Creator beckons
the created, 
join the dance

Because there's power
in the blood
And your hands have been washed clean
So come take hold of Mine
that were nailed
to a tree
For thee

To dance with the Creator,
with the Divine