This is the hardest thing I have ever had to write.
As I read through my social media timelines, it seems like every person I know has become the arbiter of racial wisdom. They pontificate on the “white privilege” they have. They virtue signal every crime that our “systemic” lives have perpetrated. Somehow, everyone with pale skin is guilty of racism even when they’ve done nothing wrong and that THAT is all the evidence needed to prove that they are a racist. These folks who write have all become experts in how to heal our land and the only solution is to give in to those who are most angry and allow them to destroy our cities. And they do it from cushy suburbia where they have never had to interact with people from other racial backgrounds like others I know.
I so want to say something on every post and tweet I’ve seen. But then the fingers will point and the accusations will fly that Mike Lewis is guilty of “white privilege” and “racism” for even saying something. Unless I signal a virtue and accept my guilt, I am “part of the problem.”
So what do I say? Do I feign outrage at the death of someone who was only guilty of trying to use a fake twenty at a store? Do I speak out about all the systemic injustice that *clearly* our cops are guilty of? If I don’t, am I part of the problem? Hater. Racist. Privileged. White.
This all breaks my heart and it breaks Jesus’ heart.
I am not Jesus. Not claiming to be. But I have always striven to be like him.
I grew up in a very tough town. Stockton, California. A place where it’s tough to grow up and not get into trouble. I remember living on Greenfield Lane next door to a Hindu family. My brother and I played G.I. Joe (A Real American Hero) figures with their son Mindeep. We had fun. He would come over and ask if we could play. And we loved getting out our Joes and setting up in the front yard. Was I racist? Could I have done something to make him feel more at ease as we played? I was a kid…I didn’t know any different.
In Junior High (Middle School for some of you) we made friends with the Thompson boys–George and Shawn–at our church and used to go to their house and play on their Vectrex (video game nerds know) and street baseball in their cul-de-sac with a tennis ball. We used to call each other on the phone when we got new games and talk about the “next time we come over” to play them together. Does it matter if I tell you what race they are? Does that make me more or less virtuous? Why do you care? I didn’t. My brother and I used to love hanging out with them and the chances we got to take street baseball to the park diamond and really let it rip.
The people I have met in my life, my friends, youth group members, roommates, college friends, singing mates, ministry acquaintances, and people I know as a 45 year old adult have been friends and people I have had the honor to associate with because of who I am and they are in Christ…not because of what shade of the rainbow their skin is. And it makes me sad that people care about that.
I used to change air fresheners for a living. I once went into an apartment complex and was clearly changing an air freshener. A man came out with a different skin tone than me and yelled at me because he “hates when there are white people on his floor.” Was that okay? Why? Because I am white and part of the problem? How about the kids who used to pick on me in elementary school because I was white? What about the kids in high school who would pick on me because I was white? What about the…….I won’t go on…..it doesn’t end well. Did I deserve that because I am part of some system of racism? Is it because I am not dead so I must have benefited from some of this “privilege”?
Let me flip the narrative for a minute…
J.T., B.F., T.G., J.J., S.F., J.J., S.M., and more if I sit and try to think of names….These are the initials (don’t want to reveal their identity) of men I know who have served or are still serving in some kind of law enforcement. If I add names of those working toward that goal, I could double this list. Not one of them is glad that there are corrupt police in our country. Not one of them is happy to hurt people. Not one is happy about racism. Not one thinks we should let bad police go free. All of them are hurting right now very deeply about what has happened. All of them do what they do to make sure our cities have justice and they do their best to keep the peace. All of them have to be silent because of what could happen to them if they say anything outside the boundaries of the current narrative. Is that “systemic”? What system is encouraging bad policing? Name it. Vague virtue signaling doesn’t fix it.
For those speaking out about racial inequality–good. I am glad. Racism needs to end. We also know what Scripture says about justice and mercy. It’s a verse often quoted by those who have replaced the Gospel of Jesus with the social justice, false gospel.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” –Micah 6:8 [NIV]
If we want to see justice done–God’s justice–real justice–we must be people who teach peace and mercy as well. The things I have seen people say have not been peaceful. They have called for people to be angry and serve justice in their own way. Not seeking true justice. I can guarantee that none would like to see God enact His justice…because He would not give them the grace and middle ground they would think they deserve. We would all be guilty of something and condemned to death. That’s what we deserve. God’s grace thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice is given freely to everyone who repents and calls on His name.
That’s the Gospel.
For now, this is all I can say. It was hard to write. It isn’t eloquent. It’s from my heart and now online for all to see. And I expect backlash…because I am not holding to the narrative. The accusations are going to fly and I cannot “prove” any of what I am saying. I cannot show that I am somehow an escapee from a “system” and cannot make myself look any better. I have to live with what people say. (It is ironic that those who virtue signal the loudest and seem to understand the least are the most liberal politically and theologically.)
I mourn what is happening in our nation right now. I cannot adequately write what I am thinking and feeling. I pray for our brothers and sisters who have a different skin tone than me. I cannot speak to what they deal with on a day-to-day basis. I don’t live it.
But, may I say that I am thankful for the days playing Joes with Mindeep? For the days of Nintendo and hitting that tennis ball with the Thompson boys? For the gang members of my youth group our youth minister taught Jesus? For my college friends? Minister friends?
Thank you to my parents raising me to love all people regardless of their skin color. Racism is taught not inherent in us. It can be overcome. I go to my knees in prayer on days like this asking for Jesus to come quickly. We need him now more than ever.
This is the hardest thing I have ever had to write.