My heart is heavy today. I have read article after article about the murder of George Floyd, listened to sermons and responses. I’ve received numerous emails from ministries and businesses condemning the violence. I’ve seen blame, anger, hurt, guilt, confusion and fear. All in the midst of record unemployment, a global pandemic, and the Chinese lock down of Hong Kong.
In all of the noise, above all of the voices, I’m choosing to listen most closely to one: Jesus.
How should I, as a believer and a follower of Jesus, respond? As I pray and seek God’s word for answers, a clear picture emerges. Truth needs to be spoken and valued, even when it’s painful. And as a white woman, one of the best gifts I can give is to listen. To have the kind of conversations that are honest while holding to the important reminder that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.
Jesus has much to say about this. “My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger” (James 1:19 ERV). And again in Proverbs 18:13, “If a person answers before he listens, that is foolishness that brings disgrace.” I believe my goal shouldn’t be about being heard, but rather to continue to listen to the perspectives of my brothers and sisters who don’t look like me. I don’t want to ignore, minimize or inflame, but to understand to the best of my God-given ability someone’s experiences.
I believe this is a time to work on understanding different perspectives, to realizing that each of us has deep, intrinsic value to the Lord regardless of color, and to instill a deep, mutual respect for humanity in the hearts of believers everywhere. “For God does not show favoritism,” Paul reminds us in Romans 2:11. “I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken” (Matthew 12:36). My words matter. So do yours. Choose them carefully.
One of the best thoughts I’ve heard came from Pastor John Gray. He said, “God is not color-blind.” Yes and amen! God created diversity in every aspect of His creation all around us as something to be celebrated and acknowledged, not looked down upon or dismissed. Even in heaven we will not look the same. God describes it as, “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9). It’s a beautiful tapestry of color, voices, perspectives and cultures with a deep and binding commonality: each is a chosen child of God. Each lived a life of obedience to the Lord.
I am not color blind. I don’t want to be. I want to listen, to learn, and to imitate a loving heavenly Father who reaches out to all, regardless of differences. Who doesn’t give tokens of His love, but who actively invites each of us in to a seat at His table. I want my family table on earth to resemble God’s family table in heaven: diverse and complex. I don’t need to have all the answers. I need to listen, even when it’s hard for me to hear; to work to understand before being understood, and to encourage those around me to never give up doing what is right and good despite the deceitfulness of the world around me.
I want to end with Jesus: “So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith” (Galatians 6:9f MSG). I hand my heavy heart to you, O Lord. May I never quit reaching for what is good all around me.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT Jesus calls us as His people to be both salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Salt is the seasoning, the flavor that makes something taste better. Light allows us to find our way no matter how dark our surroundings. Consider how you can personally reflect God's flavor and light to the folks in your sphere of influence. If your light is feeling pretty dim or your thoughts are bitter, find windows of time to connect into your power source: Jesus. He alone can recharge you, refresh you and guide you forward with clarity and healing.
PRAYER Ultimately, I know this world is not my home Papa. I'm a foreigner and an alien. I won't feel completely at peace until I am in heaven with You. Would you help me, Lord, to reflect your light more brightly to those who are hurting. Would you allow me to listen more and talk less, to focus more on understanding than on being understood. May I stand up for righteousness, defend truth and love fiercely with the same kind of compassion and patience you do. Please help me to see any blind spots I carry so they come into your perfect healing light. Help me look for blessings and praises in every day and every circumstance so I still see the work of Your hand. Amen.
To learn more about author & motivational speaker Barb Lownsbury or to have her speak at your next event, CLICK HERE.
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