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  • Renata Joseph

Whose Line is it Anyway?

So much has been going through my heart and head over the past few weeks. The matter of police brutality and systematized racism has come to the foreground globally, due in part to several deaths in the American Black community. The issue of systematized racism has been something I have been learning about for the past several years and an issue that is close to my heart.


I have witnessed individual racism and systematic racism on many occasions over the years as the wife of a Black man, as a foster parent and someone who worked in education and the judicial system. I have seen how the current systems disproportionately sort our Black youth out of Honors and AP classes and into Special Education and behavior programs. I've seen young Black teens discouraged from having a dissenting opinion and then accused of not caring about their education when they are silent or disengaged. I have met with and talked with Black families who want nothing more than to see their children safe and successful, but those same children are being sent out of class for behavior that is overlooked in white children.


It exists, people. It's real and it is keeping the Black family broken, the Black community broke and scared for their sons' lives.


Amidst all of the turmoil right now, I am praying for the church to have eyes to see. I'm praying for a spirit of repentance to blow through our sanctuaries, our living rooms and our hearts. And if I'm praying for the church, that means I am praying for me.


No one is infallible. No one gets it right every time. It's easy to stand self-righteous in my personal conviction and not continue to ask for new eyes, clean hands and a pure heart. I must reject complacency and continue to lay my heart bare, asking for His perspective.


In the discipleship group that Eddie and I have been leading for the past 3 months, we have looked at Jesus' response to those who should have known better. Time and time again, Jesus called out the scribes and teachers of the law, telling them they might have all the right answers in their heads, but their hearts were far from him.


I don't want to miss it. I don't want to sit comfortably in my "right-ness" and miss the heart of the matter.


In Matthew 7:22-23 Jesus says, "Many will say to me on that day,‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"


I have very clear memories of being in Christian school at 7 or 8 years old and being told how to vote for the babies. Bush would protect babies from being killed and Dukakis would kill the babies. Pretty easy choice, right?


Boiling down God's will to one (albeit important) issue is simplistic at best. What if God's principles don't match 100% to party lines? He is a God of justice and mercy, of acceptance and righteousness, He cares for His creation and the state of the family. He welcomes the refugee and cares for the orphan and the widow. Jesus never derided the poor, the sick or disenfranchised. He drew them near, he tended to their needs.

There seems to be a prevailing belief in the American church that a certain political party holds the key to heaven on earth; that its political platform lines up perfectly with Scripture. I suggest that God's will lies on both sides of the political divide. There are things that each side is getting right and areas where they both fall woefully short. If that is true, navigating our political and spiritual beliefs becomes a little more complicated than simply "voting for the babies" or saying "Black Lives Matter."


This is an opportunity for the church to seek God's perspective and repent for the areas where we've gotten it wrong- on both sides of the aisle. His line, not any political party line, is where we need to be aligned.

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