The Bible Study I wrote on healing race will result in two very different possible outcomes. One option will be to open frank, raw, heartfelt conversations that will begin to bring about healing and restoration. That is my prayer by the way. If you know my heart, I did not write this study to become a spokesperson for a race, nor for fame and fortune. I am an introvert by nature. What is happening already from the small sample of congregations engaged in utilizing this tool with God’s people is an honest inquiry, “Ok, since you opened this issue, how will your Bible Study magically solve it?” My gut reaction is, “My goal was never to become a race expert. My goal was to start the conversation. Nothing will ever improve if we cannot, or refuse to have honest and authentic interactions with those who do not look and think like us.” And this is true not just in the areas of race relations, but true when it comes to political views, issues of sexual preference, immigration tension. We cannot and will not understand the other side if we refuse to engage in relationship building. I am not arrogant enough to believe I can solve the race issue plaguing America. I just want to get people talking. I want to challenge false stereotypes and break down walls of prejudice on both sides.
The danger with only beginning the discussion is that it doesn’t advance this broken relationship. The only way to make progress beyond just a having a good conversation is to turn the matter over to the master of healing broken relationships, Jesus our Lord and Savior.
That may sound Pollyanna, but if this God could find a path to restore a fallen and disconnected humanity, surely, he can rebuild the black-white, Republican-Democrat, and whatever other divides need to be healed. As I started down this road, one section of scripture screamed at my soul; it is from Ecclesiastes 3. Over the course of the next two weeks, I will unpack a pathway to reconciliation. Below is the foundation for this reconciliation.
For everything, there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
I will take one crucial phase for us to chew on this week: “a time to heal.” What I have covered so far in this series are some of the effects that the pain of race sins of the past have left in its wake. It has created; distrust, anger, guilt, shame and brokenness just to name a few. I am sure if you sat down to think about it you could develop a more exhaustive list. The question of this century is how do we heal this?
Steps in the Healing Process
- Know the “truth.”
A relationship that has been severely damaged, incorrect or based on partial information serves as a detriment to getting beyond the hurt. Race in America is driven by erroneous perceptions about each other. To begin to heal, we need to see the past accurately. The reality of the current landscape can change. But it is a process to work through. It’s the beginning part of the healing process. We need to acknowledge the current struggles. Face the painful realities. And shed light on what needs to be fixed so we can begin to deal with the current pain.
- The regaining of trust takes both sides working together.
When it comes to conflict, our natural inclination is to get defensive. Being transparent is hard. For this nation to move forward, we all must be willing to make progress beyond the typical ways of operation. There must be a sincere effort to work out the issues, or the walls will never come down. The angrier we are, the less we can hear what the offended person must say. The longer we ignore this deep hurt in our society the worse relationships will get.
- It takes time.
The divide did not happen overnight, and it can’t be solved quickly. The process will take time. Think of it in these terms; it is like a marriage where one member cheats on the other. You don’t just get back to business as usual. You need to see repentance, a change of attitude. You need to take small steps forward. You look for little windows of progress, and along the way, there will be setbacks. But if the relationship is worth saving you don’t give up. The real question in all this: “Is the racial divide worth repairing?” If we as a nation don’t think so, then all is lost even before we begin.
Here is the link to purchase the Bible Study. I pray it will be a blessing.