The past couple of weeks have opened the eyes of many as it relates to race relations and reconciliation. Prior to the Zimmerman Trial, verdict many people believed that they did not harbor any prejudice/racist thoughts toward others. I, thought that I had dealt with previous prejudices and had deemed everyone the same…until that verdict came down-NOT GUILTY.The verdict put things in perspective quickly and emphatically.
My theological lens shifted, my anthropological lens zoomed in on the particular and my sociological lens aimed at the black community. Not surprised but yet still shocked, the outcome of the trial surfaced a prejudice that became unsettling. What it also highlighted was the impact of racism looms large in America. (When I say racism I am talking about the power structure that decides to oppress one group over another.)
What the Zimmerman Trial has done spiritually for me is open my eyes to the continual force of grace. Yes, my theology has changed but my understanding of God’s grace changed as well. Yes, I am angry, bothered, bewildered, and want to respond adversely but the grace that God extends keeps me at bay. I was attending an all white congregation (my family were the only blacks in the Church) prior to the Zimmerman Verdict. It was a great church, with great people but after the verdict, I could not see myself going back to that church. Not that I thought that they all were racist but my theological lens had shifted to a point that our vantage points of the Gospel were no longer aligned. My daughter actually loved the church but I know the tension that I would have felt would have been noticeable. They would have gone out of their way to make us feel more at home. The problem was not there response but my reality. The reality that this will happen again and it is hard for you to really see where I am coming from-and vice-versa.
The church as a whole is reluctant to redefine the process of race reconciliation because it really does not think that there is a problem. Grace has been used as a mask to hide prejudice/racism instead of the balm to heal from it.
It is amazing how such a beautiful word,– Grace has the word race embedded inside.