It’s a popular beginning for a book title. I’ll spare you the examples. And the number seven is considered lucky so, why not. Seriously, I am not concerned with popularity (Well, maybe a little.) and I don’t think that persons would describe my approach to the social construct of race as a lucky one. Most days, it is a look of confusion, irritation and more often, relief. But, I digress.
My intention is to get you and I to think of the ways in which we can intentionally remove race from our interactions with each other. This idea concerning the habits of a race-less Christian was spawned by a series of questions that included, “How does race impact your ability to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?” Does race, its prejudices and stereotypes change the ways in which we believe and worship, love and serve, work and play? Absolutely, it does. I’ ll spare you a review of the theologies that have developed from it. But, there will still be a quiz on Friday.
So, how do we behave as Christians, the hands and feet of Christ if we are judging them based on the social coloring of skin? What can we do to prevent race from getting in the way of our witness and work for Christ? Why can’t we come to church and not allow our prejudices to come with us? The short answer to the last question is because we do not die to them.
The seven habits of a race-less Christian may read more like a funeral program because it will involve practical applications for cross- bearing. Dying to our will and ego is essential. We simply cannot proceed until their is a burial.
The seven habits of a race-less Christian are not complete by themselves but should be used as initial steps. So, let’s get going.
Step 1. Commit to learning about race– not in order to informatively react or to resolve that this is not our church’s problem. But, learn about the history of race through scholarly research and make your interest in understanding apart of your private devotions. Sit with the words of race and the commandments of Christ.
Step 2. Pray for persons who are involved in race-related incidents. Don’t listen to form an opinion or to give a verdict. Just listen to what happened, how race impacts the soul and impedes the ministry of reconciliation. And be in tune with how race makes you feel.
Step 3. Listen for the ways in which race and its progeny are used in society. Seek to understand what it means in and to your community. And then ask yourself why again and again. How would a change in the definition impact our relationships?
Step 4. Acknowledge your prejudices and the ways in which you stereotype persons of other cultural groups. Think of her as Jesus would and ask “How does Jesus see her? How does Jesus know her?”
Step 5. Allow the false perceptions of race to die. Don’t breathe life into them by making excuses for our use or continued acceptance of associations that alienate, bully and depersonalize other human beings.
Step 6. Form intentional cross- cultural relationships. No counting. No quota. No limit.
Step 7. Invite her and him to worship with you. This is how the church is desegregated, with one friendship at a time. Becoming race-less Christians will lead to a race-less church.
Let me know where these steps take you.