I am writing to my fellow white Christians. It is beyond time that we have a little talk with Jesus and among ourselves about white privilege and the sin of racism.
White privilege means that your skin color has never been the reason you have struggled or had to work harder. All of us benefit from white privilege, and we must use our privilege to advocate for our black neighbors because Jesus always stands with the oppressed.
Sins fall into two categories: sins of commission and sins of omission. Sins of commission are things that we do that we shouldn’t do. In many churches, we talk a lot about sins of commission. When you think about racism only in this framework, you may be tempted to think that you are not racist. You don’t use racial slurs. You have black friends.
Sins of omission are things we should do that we haven’t done. These sins don’t get talked about much in many white American churches because to change our behaviors regarding these sins often requires more from us. Many of us have not spent much time reckoning with our sins of omission regarding racism. We must educate ourselves on how racism infects all parts of society and how we can work to change that by challenging those systems and casual racism among our peers. We must create room at the table for diverse voices within our circles of influence.
Dismantling racist systems is the responsibility of white people and lays squarely at our feet. We must work to enact personal and systemic changes. Present day white people did not create these systems, but we take refuge in their shade.
1 John 4:20 states “Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.” You may say you don’t hate your black neighbors, but the Bible teaches us that faith without works is dead. We must pray about our individual and collective sins, but we must also put action with our prayers. If you only ask forgiveness but don’t change your actions, have you really repented?
Would you want to be treated the way our culture treats black people? I don’t believe anyone who says yes. If you answered no, that tells you there is much work to do. We must not only make sure our own knee is not on our black neighbor’s neck, but we must push anyone else’s knee off too.
We must stand beside our black neighbors because black lives matter. We must recognize the ways systemic racism has benefited us and harmed them. We must not just feel empathy or guilt. We must also act.
Jesus emptied himself to become human. If we aren’t willing to give up some of our power and space to make room for our black neighbors, are we really committed to being like Christ?