Them: Divided We Fall

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The Take It Home in this series offers Bible passages to reconsider, a personal story to see through other eyes, and exercises in personal reflection and prayer. We pray that the Holy Spirit will use these in bringing you along in your journey or reconciliation with God and with all of His people.

Valuing Together
1 Corinthians 12:26 (ESV) If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. ‚Ä®Several years ago I taught at an inner city high school. The student body was 98% African American and 2% Hispanic. I am white. At the beginning of class I took roll. I have been teaching for 20+ years, but I still have trouble pronouncing names. This year was no exception and in fact, it was especially difficult given the school had students with very unique names. As I took roll, I was met with much hostility as I unfortunately, mispronounced many of my student’s names. I dismissed this hostility as I thought this was their problem not mine. “They are too sensitive”, I thought.

However, God worked in my heart and the next day, instead of taking roll, I had the students tell me their name and why their name was so important. I heard story after story how their names were given to them and why the name had such meaning. Many of the names were given to the students by their grandparents who were the major, sometime only, influences in their lives. Some students had names given to them by a loved one who had since died because of violence in the city. Each story was precious and shamefully, the day before, I had dismissed them. I did not treat their name with the respect it deserved. How could I ask them to work as a team to learn if I didn’t respect what mattered to them?

This was a WOW moment for me. It made me realize that even if I didn’t think something was important, that didn’t mean others shared my view. If I easily dismissed this issue what other issues have I also dismissed? God calls us to be unified. If one of us suffers, we all suffer. If one is honored, we all rejoice. He tells us that we should have concern for one another. I had failed this task. How do you lament and confess the values you inadvertently devalue?

Joined Together

Ephesians 4:16 (GW) He makes the whole body fit together and unites it through the support of every joint. As each and every part does its job, he makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Paul brings up the image of bones fit together and the key role of joints where one bone connects with another. This connection in the church, one bone joining another is, what brings growth and builds up love. This structural image makes me think of the structures in my life, the connections with some different “bone” that brings strength and builds my capacity to love. Meditate on this image, name the person represented by that different bone and pray for them. If you have no name, ask the Spirit for open eyes to see and value someone who is of a different “bone”.

Seeing Each Other

Each of us has had a journey that shapes us. Some journeys are harder than others. When I go to the mall, I am not followed by mall security just because I look like I might steal something. When I drive in a neighborhood, I am not pulled over because I don’t look like I belong. These are instances that happen repeatedly to my students. I do not fully understand their sadness about their journey because I have not walked in their shoes. Here are some more eye opener assumptions for you to reflect on. Pick one to talk about with someone and listen more than you talk.

# I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.
# When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
# I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
# I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.
# I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared.
# I can be pretty sure of finding people who would be willing to talk with me and advise me about my next steps, professionally.
# I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.
# I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.
Suffer Together

1 Corinthians 12:13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

Take one of the reflection points that strikes you as having injured not only THEM but also limited you and your ability to look live and love like Jesus. Take it to the Holy Spirit in prayer and “drink of one Spirit.”

Burdened Together

Galatians 6:2 GW Help carry each other’s burdens. In this way you will follow Christ’s teachings.

Our neighbors in Chicago are suffering through a horrendous era of murder on the streets. Here in the ‘Burbs’ we can be deceived into thinking that it’s THEIR problem. Pay attention to the news and use the next report as a prayer prompt. Between Tuesday afternoon 2/14 and Thursday morning 2/16, 11 people were killed and 11 wounded by gun fire. Mourn with the family, write down their name and pray for them specifically for a good long mourning period of time including spouses, parents, aunts and uncles, siblings and cousins, neighbors and school mates. Here are three names to get you going:
• Takiya Holmes, aged 11
• Kanari Gentry-Bowers, aged 12,
• Lavontay White, aged 2