Part Two/Section Three: The Ultimate Goal of the Gospel
Natasha to Trillia: Dr. Piper makes the profound statement, “Diverse Unity is More Glorious than the Unity of Sameness.” What does this statement and these verses mean to you? What do they look like in the mirror of racial reconciliation?
This statement means to me that Dr. Piper is merely highlighting the Scriptures that address equality for all men regardless of ethnicity and the reflection of the last day when all tongues and tribes will worship together. It reminds me of the often quoted verse in Galatians: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (3:28). The diversity found in this verse coupled with the profound statement that we are all “one in Christ Jesus” is what I believe is one aspect Dr. Piper is referring to.
And you ask, “What does it look like in the mirror of racial reconciliation?” I believe it looks like multi-ethnic churches. Multi-ethnic churches reflect the diverse unity that we will see on the last day. My friend and writer, Jemar Tisby, elaborated on this in an article recently on The Gospel Coalition called The Joyful Pursuit of Multi-Ethnic Churches. He highlights the benefits of this diverse unity Piper writes about here.
Trillia to Natasha: This isn’t a question directly related to the section, rather regarding the series. A few posts ago you asked me why I press on discussing these topics. I’d like to ask you, given your recent lament over allowing your spirit to be affected by your blog statistics, what you do to continually persevere when there’s a chance only few will read? What are practical ways you pursue racial reconciliation and maintain a desire to write for “an audience of One?”
I partially answered this question in my “lament” when stating I write out of obedience. Additionally, at least part of the purpose of the gift of writing is to lend a voice to those who feel voiceless and to replace broken images with new, redeemed ones, and I believe all of that helps move reconciliation forward. Finally, I do not measure “success” of my writing through the quantity of people reached. I do often consider the quality of my writing and do not take that responsibility likely. I pray over most of the material I publish, seek the Lord concerning the convictions of my heart, and try to weigh my motivations as best I can before hitting the “publish” button or sending off an article to a publisher. Most of the time, I am writing about my own personal convictions and burdens God has placed on my heart. The title of my blog is “A Sista’s Journey” because I am literally sharing parts of my spiritual journey with those people who choose to walk with me. I know that through my writing people have been encouraged, enlightened, and changed and that reality keeps me obedient to my calling to write regardless of how many people read. But I also know, if I do not live, there is literally nothing to write about.
I persevere by drawing near to God. After getting my daughter ready for school, the first thing I do is read my Bible and pray. I understand the need to regularly draw near to God, seek His face, and learn from Him. I find my time with God aligns the desires of my heart with the priorities of His heart. Spending time with God also reminds me of how much I need Him, how I am lost and hopeless without Him. The privilege of this relationship increases my gratitude. As a leader, wife, and mother, I’m coming to understand that spending this time alone with God kills the prideful spirit and makes me more humble. Therefore, I’m finding the need to spend more time with God throughout the day. Abiding in Christ is what helps me to persevere when I get discouraged (and sometimes I get discouraged often). But I encourage myself with the truth of scriptures like:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Gal. 6:9
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6-7
The main way I pursue racial reconciliation is through relationships: by humbly listening to others, being intentional about what I choose to see, and the messages I communicate as a bridge builder across several dividing lines. My life experiences has given me the opportunity to engage with people from various backgrounds, so when I’m trying to “see” or get to know a person, I engage the conversation from many perspectives. My purpose in communicating with people is often to learn from them, so I ask a lot of questions and do not shy away from admitting what I do not know.
Because I have been shown favor in my educational and professional pursuits, I consider it an honor and responsibility to share the information I have learned with other African Americans young people so they too have opportunities to thrive in their life’s work. Those pursuits have also placed me in predominantly white environments for most of my adult life. Because of who I am in those environments, I bring a different perspective to the conversations for those who care enough to ask, listen, and follow through on what they have heard. From the time I was a teenager, I have always had intimate relationships with white people whom I love and who love me. I engage in honest conversations with them because I believe racial reconciliation really occurs through authentic, life giving, and God honoring relationships. My interactions with Hispanics and Asian Americans have been less frequent, but God has even allowed me to develop a few relationships there.
Part of the motivation for this series is to heighten my awareness concerning my love of neighbor, and as a Christian leader, share what I have learned to equip others to love their neighbors well. Education goes a long way to increased understanding, but apart from the work of the Holy Spirit—nothing. In this past week alone, I have come across several articles that have been eye opening: How the Rules of Racism are Different for Asian Americans, Thanksgiving: What’s Is All About, and 5 Things To Know About Blacks and Native Americans. I don’t know if any of those articles would have caught my attention if not for the “Neglected Voices” part of this series. As a result of hearing the Native and Asian Americans stories, I am now choosing to see differently. This is just one example of how God is quickening my spirit according to Ephesians 4 to prepare me for the work of ministry, and this is our call to unity in Christ.
How about you? What are some practical ways you pursue racial reconciliation?
We are discussing Chapters 15, 16, and conclusion next week.
© Trillia Newbell and Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2012 #RacialRec