It’s not anything uncommon. But it’s something I was completely unaware of. Growing up, I was (still am) white living in a white world. I had not realized how I probably have contributed to it. But it’s been there the entire time.
I couldn’t put my finger on it. Things that have been slightly said that came and went like dust in the wind but left the impact of a freight train. Lately, I have become more and more aware since being in an Interracial Marriage and having now an interracial child(and being a stepfather to two African-American children) how slight comments are consistently said referencing my family and I that hurt deeply.
I expect this out of depraved sinners. But out of the people of God who have experienced the grace that declares us right in spite of us, this is troubling.
What are Racial Microaggressions?
“Brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.”
When I heard of Racial Microaggressions, it took a second for it to register with me. I actually understood it best when viewing this post written by Heben Nigatu on Buzzfeed.
Seeing the pictures of people with comments that had been made about them brought a clear picture of what this really looks like. I began to realize that many of the comments that have been made about my newly born son(10/21/13) were offensive for my wife and I.
These aren’t small statements that are forgot about. They are not limited to being said among non-believers in Christ only. It’s in the church. It exists heavily and it’s been hurting many people of color for a very long time.
How Should We React:
Mad? Angry? Wrathful?
Many of us want to react that way rightfully. I myself have had moments where I (a church leader) was ready to go to blows with a man who made a disrespectful comment towards me and my family. I have felt that righteous anger over the sinful root of racism. It brings anger and hurt.
When understanding the Gospel and dealing with someone who makes an insensitive comment, intentionally or unintentionally, I remember my depravity.
The Gospel applies to this because when pointing out any sins in others lives (Mt 7:3-5), we must remember the sin in our own. We must remember that we are all poor and in need of Saving. We are all wretched and deserve eternal punishment. I can look at that man who made a comment about my family and be angry but the gospel reminds me that I have offended God just as harshly.
God has justified you. He has created you from your mother’s womb. His word declares you to be equal with anyone else that is in the kingdom of God. You deserve to be at the table. You deserve the inheritance that has been given you.
This is all because of what Jesus has done. When the father looks at your life, he sees the perfect life of Christ. When he looks at you he sees his child. He sees his heir. You are adopted as his (Romans 8:14-16), completely his.
My tendency when unjust things happen to me or those I love is to get angry, offended and ready to duke it out with words. But this is never helpful. God’s word teaches us not to repay evil for evil (1 Peter 3:9).
When I begin to probe gospel questions towards ignorant comments, it will show a gospel need in one’s heart. A friend of mine shared how he has a coworker who makes racial slights and claims to be a Christian. He began digging in to reveal to the guy a racist heart that is in need of gospel transformation. Many times these conversations can end where the person making the unmistakingly rude comment may leave angry because they may not want to believe the racism(sin) that exist somewhere in their heart. But the gospel does tell us a harsh truth about ourselves, we are sinners. Many of us hear that and because of our sinful hearts don’t want to receive it.
This is the typical church answer but truthfully, this is the most essential action that must follow sin.
We need to pray for ourselves that God would strengthen us to react to sin in ways that brings him glory. Pray that we would love the other person throughout the rightful frustrations we may feel.
We need to pray for those who were sinned against. Pray they would understand their value as being God’s creation. Pray they would not become embittered with the person who wronged them. Pray they would see a need for the gospel through this experience.
We need to pray for the one who sinned. Pray they would change heart because of the gospel issue in their life. Pray they would repent of their sin. Pray they would seek restoration for the relationship they (intentionally or unintentionally) have hurt. Pray they would come to faith in Christ through this situation.