Race has always been a part of all our lives. For that reason if no other it will remain both highly debated and widely misunderstood. It will always be an emotional issue. It’s near impossible to celebrate Christmas and not consider race. The Christmas saga is widely racial as it is the story of the birth of the mixed racial Savior of the world. A read through the genealogy of Jesus would reveal within his bloodline are Canaanites, Sodomites, Hittites and Jews. No wonder Paul writes to the church in Galatia that in Christ there is no distinction between race, class or sex. Yet, our nation and our communities are re-segregating around issues of race, class and sex… while the evangelical faith community is largely silent.
Silence is dangerous because it opens a window of opportunity for those with an agenda and in need of a platform to facilitate the conversation and further widen the distance between us. The church cannot be silent during this hour.
Recent stories spanning, Missouri, New York City and Cleveland have sparked a national conversation. What is alarming is these stories have proven we do not live in a post racist America. Most whites view the problem as circumstance while blacks view it as systemic. The difference in our views is simply a matter of experience. Whites and blacks have different experiences with law enforcement. Pragmatically speaking both whites and blacks must share in a healthy exchange of listening to one another. White people must stop defending the systems that protect and serve them while ignoring that many of those systems have a racial bias. To say, “I am not a racist” while ignoring systemic racial bias is a contradiction. Much of this bias comes from our white pulpits and community leaders that seem incapable of admitting selling unlicensed cigarettes while posing no threat hardly qualifies for the death sentence. Likewise, Black people have a role to play. Blacks must stop “cherry-picking” crimes against the black community. To boycott whites for KKK behavior and ignore blacks who shoot up their own communities, call each other “nigga” and perpetuate stereotypes hardly creates public trust and credibility. In similar fashion to white America, much of this perspective is facilitated amongst community and faith leaders. To show no interest in a city or a community until it creates a big enough platform to warrant involvement does not exude effective leadership.
To celebrate the birth of Jesus who dies that the demands of justice might be met (for the wages of sin is death) yet ignore the scales of injustice is not Christmas.
To celebrate the birth of Jesus who would live to shed his blood that we might be reconciled to a Holy and loving God as the ultimate act of grace and we not exhibit grace is not Christmas.
To celebrate the birth of Jesus who survived a government policy of male genocide while ignoring the fact that black males are far more likely to be sentenced, convicted, executed and murdered than white males is not Christmas.
To celebrate the birth of Jesus who would later proclaim, “I have come that you might have life” and we not desire all people of every background have a chance at life is not Christmas.
To celebrate the birth of Jesus who we are to be crucified with so that we no longer live but Christ in us and still allow the labels of Black, White, Democrat, Republican, Conservative or Liberal to be our primary identity is not Christmas.
America, we once again is reminded that at the heart of our skin problem is a sin problem. This is good news during this holiday season because we know the answer to the sin problem – Jesus Christ. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus may we not misrepresent His birth in the eyes of a world that desperately need him.
Only under the Lordship of Jesus Christ can the cultural and contextual cloudy lenses of class, sex and race by which the tragedies of Ferguson and Long Island are viewed can be brought into its clearest focus.
What are your thoughts on the issue of racial reconciliation during this Christmas season and beyond?