Yesterday I blogged about the book Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, & Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelism. One of the stories threaded throughout the book is Lisa Sharon Harper’s.
Lisa is a brilliant writer & preacher & thinker & advocate, and today’s book is her latest: The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right.
I blogged about it a couple months ago in a post called My Incomplete Gospel and you’ve reeeeeally got to read that post, because it’s important, and I don’t want to repeat everything here (and I have lots more to say). Go ahead. Read it. I’ll wait.
And now here’s a little trailer about the book:
The Very Good Gospel is about all the many many kinds of shalom (shalom with God, shalom with self, shalom between genders, shalom and creation…), the ways we’ve broken it, and how we can help bring about its restoration.
(Seriously, if you haven’t read My Incomplete Gospel, please read it.)
All the shaloms are important, but because I’m focusing on diversity in this series, I want to focus on shalom and race.
I have been so disheartened over the past few years, as I’m learning about our country’s true history of racism, to see/hear so many white Christians saying, “Focusing on racism is a distraction from the gospel!”
“Once you have eyes to see structural and systemic injustice, you can’t stop seeing it everywhere.”
And a white Christian Lecrae fan said this in reply:
Lecrae, you’ve lost your focus on the mission. God didn’t give you your gifts to fight for black rights. Where is that in the great commission?
I think that sentiment is super prevalent among Evangelical believers. I know many many Christians have lobbed it my way in the past few years as I’ve spoken out against racial injustice.
The “great commission” this guy is referring to is Jesus’ final exhortation as he ascended into heaven. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel, making disciples of every nation and baptizing people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
Great. Awesome. BUT NOT THE ONLY THING JESUS EVER SAID TO US.
Take Luke 4:18-19, some of Jesus’ earliest recorded words, for example:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
He came to bring shalom. And, when we obey his two greatest commands, 1.) love God and 2.) love your neighbor as yourself, we’re bringing shalom too. When he says, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven,” we bring heaven stuff, shalom, to people’s lives here on this planet.
“To live in God’s Kingdom, in the way of shalom, requires that we discard our thin understanding of the gospel. I had to face a hard truth: my limited, evangelical understanding of the gospel had nothing to say about sixteen thousand Cherokees and four other sovereign indigenous nations whose people were forcibly removed from their lands. and it had nothing to say to my own ancestors who were enslaved in South Carolina.” (p. 13)
“If one’s gospel falls mute when facing people who need good news the most–the impoverished, the oppressed, the broken–then it’s no gospel at all.” (p. 14)
So, what do we do? How do we make things right? How do we bring shalom?
Lisa suggests starting by listening to stories of people who don’t share your ethnicity. Read books and articles and blog posts written by them. Watch movies and documentaries by them and about them. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook.
And then be willing to admit our white privilege.
I’m not talking about guilt or shame. I’m talking about acknowledging truth and taking a stand to make the wrong things right.
“What would it look like for white Jesus followers to renounce their racial affiliation, to no longer accept the power and privilege allotted through the current system? Or to leverage it for the sake of others? And what kind of new world could we build if all of us on American soil–all of us–replaced race with our ethnic heritage (ethnos) rooted in place, language, and community? We would remember the history, study the ways race broke our world, and build a future that corrects its impacts. We would refuse to be defined by a lie. Then, perhaps, we would experience more of the power of the Resurrection as we brought our whole selves and the living power of the Resurrection into multiethnic community with our neighbors, in our schools, in our hospitals, in our courts, and in the public square.” (p. 154)
Talk about bringing heaven to earth. Man.
Day 1: Introduction
Day 2: Books by/about refugees.
Day 3: Books about race & faith.
Day 4: Books about race & faith, cont’d.
Day 5: Book about a family with a transgender child.
Day 6: Just Mercy.
Day 7: The New Jim Crow.
Day 8: Rescuing Jesus.
(All links are Amazon Associate links.)