Why is reconciliation so hard?


I read this post recently and thought it was fantastic.  Pastor Cho – “Amen!’

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Last week, I shared a post entitled “a nation of cowards” and asked if we’re indeed cowards when it comes to the conversation of racism and the continuous work towards reconciliation.

One thing that is clear to me is that the [C]hurch is quite silent.  We talk often of reconciliation that’s necessary between God and humanity but need to do keep pushing forward about how our faith informs and transforms our relationship with one another.

In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. [Galatians 3.28/the message]

Why is racism such a difficult topic and issue – including for Christians?  Well, here are some of my reasons:

  1. It’s hard work.  And people can be lazy.  And talking about racism is an exhausting conversation because it brings up some deep questions. Reconciliation is hard work. The need for reconcilation assumes that something is broken; something is not as it was intended to be.
  2. Something called ‘Life.’  There’s lots of other things going on – umm, like the financial recession. There’s more important things going on.
  3. And how is this part of the gospel?
  4. Confusion.  People don’t like confusion.  Folks like clarity and certainty.  We like answers.
  5. Conflict. People don’t like conflict and well, the conversation of racism provokes conflict and strong opinions.
  6. Fear. People are afraid.  Afraid to consider the possibilities that we’re racist, prejudiced or implicated by our silence.  Afraid to consider that we live as victims in a ‘victimized’ mentality.  Afraid to consider that we need to “give up” something.  Afraid to “count the costs.”
  7. Apathy. People don’t care.  We’re apathetic.  And this is probably the scariest reason.
  8. What? We don’t think it exists.  What racism? What prejudice?  And this is probably as scary as #6.
  9. How?  People don’t know how to talk about racism.  We don’t have an agreed upon framework to engage the conversation and move towards peace and reconciliation.
  10. We want to forget the past and just “move forward.”  It’s over.  Heck, Obama is President. It’s a new day.
  11. [Insert your additional thoughts here…]

The topics of racism, prejudice, and reconciliation are  indeed painful conversations.  While I don’t necessarily believe that the answer lies exclusively with the Church, I do believe the answer lies with the Gospel.  It lies ultimately with the message of ‘shalom’ that God intended for humanity to live in fellowship with God and with one another – because we are created in the image of God.

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