White privilege, reconciliation and the gospel

This is a guest post by Chioma Chukwu-Smith, a friend who is passionate about issues of justice. She moved to St. Louis, MO from New York and is currently pursuing a career in law to address racial, economic, and social concerns.

Very well meaning white individuals have told me it must not be possible to be my friend unless you are black. I just laughed as I wrote that because the closest possible human relationship I could have is with a white man!  Chioma wedding

Reflecting on this comment, I want to highlight the story of Pamela Baum, a white mother and friend of many years:

Her and her family have lived in an inner city neighborhood for probably over a decade – I lived with them my first week in St. Louis. She and her hubby have white biological children and some black adopted ones. I ran into her on two different occasions after the Ferguson incident and picked her brain on why white people that are far removed from issues of racism react the way that they do, and she was insightful and encouraging.

Monday night, her white son Josh was held up at gunpoint and shot in the leg. He’s recovering at home and doctors are confident he’ll make a full recovery. What was Pam’s response? Not to get the heck out of that neighborhood, but it was this:

“Bad things happen. Period. That is why we are here. To break down the racial barriers, walk alongside of the broken and hopeless, the point them to Jesus who came to bind up the brokenhearted, set free the captives, and give hope and purpose.

We are here to reach those kids who are bent on destruction, to love them and preach the good news of the gospel. God did not spare his own son, but sent him into the mess to save us. If he was willing to die for me, I should be willing to risk it all for others. The gospel is worth it!”

THAT is the power of the gospel when it comes to racial reconciliation. That is a white woman that I sit at the feet of to listen and learn from because racial tension didn’t HAVE to be her problem as a white woman, but she chose to make it her problem because of Jesus. She’s an example of someone not in denial of her whiteness/white privilege, but a person using white privilege to bring wholeness in the city.

I thank God for the bringing Pam into my life as an example of a white woman leading the way in being Jesus’ hands and feet in the midst of racial tension in St. Louis!Chioma

You can reach Chioma on Twitter @Chiomesc


A bicycle built for two

Spiritual soul care for the Christian is like a father and his son riding a bicycle build for two.  The child is barely hanging on. His feet hardly reach the pedals. tandemBut when they ride past Mum, he yells, “Look Mum, we’re riding a bike together.  WE’RE both pedaling to make it go fast!!”

Now the reality is that if Dad wasn’t there, the little boy wouldn’t be going anywhere. He’d crash and fall on his face.  But in his mind it sure does feel like they are working hard together.

We are called to have control over our soul.  We are called to confess our sins, place our faith in the risen Lord Jesus and walk in faith to serve God with all of our might.

And the reality?

The Spirit is at work behind the scenes.  He’s on moving us forward.  He’s granting us faith.  He’s giving us the power to make good choices with our bodies,with our minds and with our soul.

Take care of your soul and while you do, remember to thank God for the Spirit who is at work in you.

Is Christian growth like Arnold or Bob?

What’s a good illustration for growing more like Christ?

Sometimes we think of Christian growth is like going to the gym. At the gym, they have posters of huge guys, with giant muscles, on the walls along with mirrors so you can compare yourself. The goal after lifting weights for a while is to end up like Arnold with arnold-schwarzeneggermassive arms, chest and legs.

Christians do the same thing – we have a mental picture of Jesus and say, “That’s what I want to look like. So now I’ve got to work out – go to church, read my bible, pray – do these spiritual things so that I’ll grow my spiritual muscles and look like Jesus one day.”

There some true there. Spiritual disciplines are good – praying, worshiping, reading the Bible and other good books – but comparing ourselves to Jesus not the primary path to spiritual maturity.

I think a better illustration of Christian growth is the muscle development you get when you join a crew of workers building a house. Like “Bob the Builder” who goes out each day Bob the builderto work.  The boss says you need to carry those one hundred concrete blocks from here to there. That wears you out.

And the next day a pile of wood which needs to be carried up three flights of stairs which wears you out. Each day as you work, you get a little stronger. Your muscles are growing as you work building a house.

The same is true for us spiritually as we join with God in his building project.  Ephesians 2:10 states “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Spiritual growth doesn’t happen in the abstract. God gives his Spirit so that you can join him in the renew of all things. Yes – those spiritual disciplines are good.  But we don’t grow spiritually so that we can look in the mirror and admire our beautiful (spiritual) body.

Growing more like Jesus is normal for a healthy Christian.  But let’s just keep in mind that our growth is for a purpose – God’s purpose.  And may we all become a little more like Bob the Builder each day.

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