In 1955 Pittsburgh, there was an accident in a steel Mill. Perhaps there were lots of accidents in steel mills during that time, but this one changed the perspective on race in one man’s mind. Billy was working a fire in the mill. To make the fire hotter, a kind of lacquer was added to...
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) There is hope, even in these turbulent times. The spirit of the world is divisive, angry, hateful and racist. Those forces can deeply...
Anytime that we categorize people into “us” and “them,” “them” is always less than “us.” The truth is there is only “us.” If we categorize people and buy into the legitimacy and validity of distinctions based on the pigment of skin...
In 1955 Pittsburgh, there was an accident in a steel Mill. Perhaps there were lots of accidents in steel mills during that time, but this one changed the perspective on race in one man’s mind.
Billy was working a fire in the mill. To make the fire hotter, a kind of lacquer was added to the flames. It only took an instant, once Billy added the lacquer, for the flames to leap up and engulf his arm. A man came to his rescue and as he lay in the hospital recovering from his own injuries, he recalled with great emotion, “The young lad was running, a ball of flames…I did all I could…” Billy’s father thanked him and later remarked, “I have a different heart and mind set about white people. Everybody stood there, frozen to the floor, but it was the white man who risked his life. He risked his life for my son and I have a different opinion now.”
Billy’s dad had faced many prejudices in his life. Not the least of which was the inequality he endured during his service in WWII. However, the selfless act of one person showed him that his ideas and opinions did not apply to an entire group of people. Sadly, Billy succumbed to his injuries and passed away. His accident though, was a catalyst for change in his family.
Billy’s sister, Arlene was profoundly impacted by her brother’s passing. Arlene went on to raise her five daughters with love in their hearts toward all people. Even though the community, school, and church where they lived was entirely black, many of the white teachers at their school were loving and poured encouragement and support into their lives. However, the girls did see and experience a lot of discrimination in the extended parts of their mostly-white church organization. It didn't stop them from worshiping with them or attending the events, but it helped them to learn how not to treat people.
Arlene worked at Teen Challenge year-round, and during the summers she took her five girls along with her. Patrice Lyle watched her mother minister with the love of Christ to people of all races. Because of this modeling, Patrice is driven to see and love others as Christ does; humans with beautiful differences all created in the image of God the Father.
After the events in Charlottesville, Patrice hosted a Coffee and Conversation event. She invited others as an opportunity to learn to love each other by getting to know each other...one conversation at a time. The meeting was attended by 3 of Patrice’s sisters, her brother-in-law and 1 white friend. Patrice was so thankful for the friend that came because it lent a different voice to the discussion. “Every time you allow yourself to hear a different perspective, it opens your heart and mind a little bit more,” Patrice said.
The bottom line for Patrice with racial reconciliation is trying to know and understand each other’s hearts. Most times when people begin a racial reconciliation conversation, even if they don’t necessarily say the “right” things, they’re trying to get there—to racial reconciliation or an understanding of one another. People willing to enter into these conversations need to understand that no one is intentionally trying to offend but to change themselves and their thinking.
Ultimately, Patrice says, “How can you bring people to Jesus if you see people as different from you? When we allow our differences to affect if we share Jesus with someone, it’s sin.”
Patrice refers to the “journey” of racial reconciliation. She offers these steps:
- Surround yourself with people different from you
- Understand how you process those differences
- Make intentional steps to lean, to understand, and then to love and embrace those differences.
Above all, Patrice says, “Allow yourself to be covered in grace. Grace allows you to not see the wrong and the faults in others”. This is great truth for interaction with ALL people!
*Quotes in the 1st paragraph are from “The Story of Billy” by Arlene Thompson. https://lilliethompson.wordpress.com/2016/07/15/the-story-of-billy/
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
There is hope, even in these turbulent times. The spirit of the world is divisive, angry, hateful and racist. Those forces can deeply affect how we view ourselves and those around us. But looking to Jesus brings us clarity, charity and peace.
Increasing racial tensions can quickly resurrect old wounds and cause them to burn with a vengeance. We can find bitterness an easy path to take, but it is one which wounds us even more deeply.
In our broken world, we are all wounded, often deeply, by the differences that divide us. Racism – and other divisive beliefs and attitudes – permeate this world, wounding and dividing us. But we can be at peace – and be peacemakers – in the midst of this turmoil.
Jesus rejected racism and identity politics. In him, we “are all one” – transcending all racial, class and gender distinctions. Jesus prayed to our Father: “ I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity” (John 17:22-23).
How is that possible? Because we have Christ incarnate in us. The glory Jesus gave us is himself.
We are a new creation in Jesus Christ, who reconciled us to God and “gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18).
Now, we can have healing in our hearts and in our relationships through Jesus Christ. Jesus can – and will – heal our deepest wounds and soften the hardness of our own hearts.
At the cross, we see other people by the value of Christ’s blood. We see people of infinite worth in God’s eyes. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
We all need transformed hearts that are redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
It is especially at troubled times like these that we must listen to and talk with one another. In so doing – in extending the grace, love and forgiveness of God to others – we minister to them and bring reconciliation.
Let us not get caught up in the superficial, the outward appearance, but rather look to one another as equals – brothers and sisters of Christ who are all equal at the foot of the cross.
Let us love one another, as God loves us.
Anytime that we categorize people into “us” and “them,” “them” is always less than “us.” The truth is there is only “us.” If we categorize people and buy into the legitimacy and validity of distinctions based on the pigment of skin, then we are locked into racism and we will be thinking in its terms until we see Jesus. I say NO! I say that my Father delights in diversity. I say that my Father made people with different skin pigments because He wanted to; because he loves to create. I just want to say that it is an honor to be your brother; together in Christ!
I want to call us as a church to be a church that realizes that we are not saved to sit, that we are called to go into every place where there is relational poverty and physical poverty and be the light and truth of Jesus Christ! We are to be a living example of God’s work to bring an end to the sin and brokenness of racism; and so we pray against the sin of racism. We pray God that you would continue to break the back of hate and hell by the power and resurrection of the love of Jesus Christ!
We pray that the church would be on the forefront of working for justice, to demonstrate your healing in practical ways. God use our hands and use our feet; in Baltimore City and in the places where we work to demonstrate your love and your healing. We pray this united; as all God’s people say, Amen. –Dr. Drew Shofner