We remember, pray and mourn with the families of George
Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Chantel Moore. We also remember that
there are countless others who are subject to the same racialized violence
whose names we do not know. We as Canadians must come to terms with and repent
of our own history of racialized oppression and violence towards indigenous
people and people of colour. Racism, discrimination and violence are antithetical to the gospel of Jesus Christ. To remain silent is to betray that
gospel. How must we respond as followers of Jesus in a time such as this?
It’s a word we use all the time in the church. We think we
know what it means, but our actions so often reveal our true ignorance.
Reconciliation is not something we can do ourselves – that much we acknowledge,
particularly in terms of our reconciliation with God. But do we realize that reconciliation
with those we have wronged is not in our power to bring about either? Forcing
reconciliation reinforces and perpetuates the initial wrong, making true
healing even more difficult.
This term is more common in the world. It involves righting
a wrong. We often find it easier to call for justice in an individual sense.
One person wrongs another – justice is done when that individual wrong is made
right. But what about when the wrong is not a discrete act committed by one
person against another? What about when a person is wronged simply by the way
the world works? How do we do justice in those cases?
All Journeys Start with a First Step
I don’t have answers to these questions. I’m not sure if there are answers, and I know for certain there are no easy answers. Perhaps the first step for those of us who benefit from the way the world works is to recognize that we do benefit from a system that harms others. If we can’t take this first step, I don’t believe any further steps towards justice or reconciliation are possible.
Perhaps an equally modest second step would be for those of
us who pride ourselves on being experts to stop, listen and learn. To let go
our need to instruct, to control, to decide what is right and wrong. This will
be uncomfortable, but it needs to be done. Support those who cry out for
justice, and lift the voices of those who suffer under racial injustice. Allow
those who have been wronged to instruct us on what true reconciliation looks
like, and then work to bring about their vision for justice and reconciliation rather
than imposing our own.
Follow God’s Lead – Participate in Justice and Reconciliation
Justice and reconciliation are central to the Christian
faith – God will make all things right, and God will bring all creation into
complete communion with God and each other. As followers of Jesus, we are
called to recognize the justice and reconciliation God seeks to bring about in
the world, and we are called to participate in that work of justice and
reconciliation. Since God is working, we must refuse to do nothing. Let us work
with God, work with our brothers and sisters who are experiencing injustice, to
bring about the will of God on earth as it is in heaven.
First Steps at ACTS Seminaries
As a first step at ACTS Seminaries, we want to invite those whose voices have been silenced to share your stories of racism, discrimination and injustice. While this is completely voluntary, we hope that even this small initiative opens a space for this crucial conversation. To share your experience with me, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or perhaps you are more comfortable connecting with someone else at ACTS – a faculty member or your enrolment advisor. Don’t hesitate to connect with them. We want to share your burden and help your voice be heard.
If you would feel safer sharing your stories in a community setting, Trinity Western University is working to create space for conversation around the topic of race across campus. President Mark Husbands and University Chaplain James Ellis III are leading this initiative.
We want ACTS Seminaries to be a community of support and encouragement, a place where your voice is heard and honoured, a place where change begins. Thank you for choosing to be a part of this community. Let’s figure out how to do this together, believing that God’s Spirit will work in us and through us as we seek to live faithfully as followers of Jesus.