I had the pleasure of talking with Mr. Rick Mast, the Campus Minister for the Christian Reformed Church at the University of Alberta.
A lot of the “we / us” language indicates members of the Christian Reformed Community. It is a short video and draws the distinction between two ideas: saving the world with our behavior and being with people in the “God with us” idea. For a more detailed written version of this idea, click here: https://idealsandidentities.com/2018/10/14/from-doing-to-being-what-stories-do-we-tell-ourselves/
In the video, I make the point that, as Christians, we don’t need to only make STATEMENTS about issues like “Black Lives Matter”; we need to stand with people in the reality they live in. This is a riskier stance in the world, but it has its model in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Not only is the incarnate Word among us, but it is this action that reconciles and heals the world. In order to be like Christ, we Christians need to “stand with” the poor and oppressed.
Why is it riskier? Well it means that in serving the needs of the poor and oppressed, we may indeed need to become poor and oppressed. this is an infinitely different stance than just a written or spoken promise. A pattern of expressed promises puts off the healing and forgiveness needed by white (or settler) culture into the future. It is a sandbag strategy in the midst of an overwhelming flood of sin manifesting as “racial inequality”, “wage gaps”, “police brutality”. The sandbag strategy can be seen in political and social contexts as the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission”, “Affirmative Action”, or the desegregation of schools. To stand with the poor and oppressed is to give up what we consider valuable for somethings that are more sacred.
The challenge is can we “settlers / benefactors of white privilege” transition the following:
- private property and accumulated wealth… for social prosperity,
- the belief that our actions can save the world… for received salvation through grace,
- the force of violence… for the power of peace,
- giving and receiving hospitality… with people who have been considered “other”,
- Expressions of “unity”… for experiences of solidarity, and
- our own egos… for the incarnate Christ?
There are many more pivot points than these formulations. But they are opened to observation if we ask ourselves one of the following two questions: 1) What would Jesus do?, and 2) Why have the Christian churches not had the impact that is in their potential?