And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:3-4
The events of the last week are a reminder that our country is divided, fragmented, and in search of hope. As an elder body, we firmly condemn the actions of the white supremacists, neo nazi, and alt-right supporters whose aim is to intimidate and discriminate against people of color, race, socioeconomic status, and the broader diverse body of our country. Racism is wrong, morally abhorrent, and demonic.
Their cause is not a historical argument, it is not a political divide argument, it is a sin issue. It is a belief that one race is the hope and moral arbiter over others. It is wrong.
I grew up in a mixed race home. My mother’s family is Mexican American and my Father’s family is Caucasian. Two of my grandparents immigrated from Mexico.
In my hometown, I grew up with a very real sense of division in my city. Affluent whites lived in the south end, middle class and blue collar families lived in the north side, and Hispanics and Blacks lived on the East side of the city. Strides have been made throughout the city’s history to further integrate the city; however, these communities and divisions run deep.
As I grew up in this tension, I remember being asked what side I liked more – my white side or my Mexican side. Am I “White” or “Mexican”? To be perfectly honest, this has always been a tension for me. At times, I felt too “white”, even around those who loved me and at others I felt too “hispanic” around my white family, who equally loved me. I found this true as a young boy and even in recent memory as I filled out employment forms and checked the box next to “Hispanic.”
My childhood was spent in this tension of geography of the city, of varying socioeconomic status and resources, of culture and norms, of food/cuisine, and physical homes between my mom, my dad, and my grandmothers’ homes. To be honest, the idea of going home for the holidays is still a confusing time.
I can think of this tension as I was entering marriage with my wife. Due to my light complexion, it is not obvious that I am of Mexican heritage. In meeting some family, I found myself in an exchange where there was a disparaging conversation about people of Mexican heritage. During the conversation, I missed a critical moment to correct the family member out of a desire to keep the peace. After the conversation, I had a great dialogue with my future in-laws who were gracious and encouraging. They corrected the family member gently and have invited me with loving arms into their family.
I would love to tell you that I have always done the right thing: that I have stood tall in my cultural identity, that I have defended both races, and that I have advocated for my mixed culture. I haven’t.
However, I can say that in Jesus, in the church, I found a sense of what John is pointing out in new creation in this passage. I can see a glimpse of a diverse body of backgrounds and nations under a sovereign king. No more racism, no more hate, no more self-exalting, no more grandstanding, no more culture that is subjected to the shadows, and no more oppression. I long for the full expression of this kingdom.
I have found that often in minority cultures that it is hard to believe that we have a voice at the table. That a vote or call matters in an election in comparison to the seemingly louder audiences that we see in the media, especially in recent days.
Given this glimpse of a diverse kingdom under and secured by our King Jesus, I celebrate my mixed heritage. I am proud of God’s unique, wonderfully designed, and specific design for my background and upbringing. This present and coming kingdom is worthy enough that I can press into conversations with loved ones around prejudice. I can speak up for my neighbors, coworkers, and community and advocate their voice with whatever influence I have. I can lead my family to act, to volunteer, to lobby our representatives and seek the welfare of all around me. Not for my namesake or self-justification, but for God’s glory.
I have two girls. Two beautiful, quarter-hispanic girls. I want them to know their rich and diverse heritage. I want them to grow up knowing that human dignity is imparted by God and not an exclusive right by one race. I want them to defend the identity that they have in Christ and in the world as hispanic/anglo women. I want them to speak up for the identity of others when they see injustice. I long to celebrate the kingdom that is coming but not yet.
As you reflect on the events of recent weeks and how you can respond, I encourage you to do the following:
Pray. Pray that God would show you his heart for ALL nations. That He would give you his heart for communities around you who are vulnerable, who need your voice, and your care.
Listen. Listen to the needs around you. Listen for your neighbors, those in your daily life, and the needs of your community. See where you need diversity in your life and look for opportunities to broaden your community.
Pursue. Pursue needs around you. Where has God placed you in your work, in your neighborhood, in your civic participation? Where has he equipped you for the work of ministry? Where is he moving to advocate for the rights and voice for those around you?
Oh that we would we be a people who seek the welfare of the city (Jeremiah 29:7)!
Additional Resources To Help Think About Race:
Verge Justice Series:
Be The Bridge:
The Red Couch Podcast:
The Sin Of Racism:
Racial Justice and the gospel:
Let’s Talk Bluntly About Race – Matt Chandler:
4 Ways To Pursue Grace In A Racially Diverse Society:
White Supremacy Versus the Gospel in Charlottesville
The Theft Of White Supremacy:
The False Narrative Of Heritage, Not Hate
Hecho Con Amor,