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Them: Salt and Light

Salt and Light
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. This week we turn the corner taking action. We pray that the Holy Spirit will use these in moving you along in your journey of reconciliation with God and with all of His people.

Be the Change

We’ve all had those moments, haven’t we? We’re in a situation, or someone says something to us, or we hear something said to someone else, and it is only later when we roll our eyes and say, “Oh, if I had only said or done this at that moment.”

I had one of those about a month ago when shopping at a Walmart store. Ahead of me in the checkout line were an African-American trio: grandmother, mother and middle-school daughter. They were buying a number of items, enough for two carts. They paid and continued on. I paid for my two items and also headed for the exit. Ahead, the “greeter” had stopped them and was carefully comparing every item in their cart to their receipt. The grandmother was disturbed and made a comment about why he was doing this: no store alarm had sounded. He didn’t reply and let her exit when he was done. I came up to him and he smiled and told me to have a nice day as I walked out – no receipt check.

I was bothered at the time with what I had seen, but it wasn’t until that evening that I realized what I could have done. I could have insisted that he check my bag, too. We all could have learned something.

Some may think that this was really a small thing. But I expect it’s not a small when it happens to you again and again. I think that we become more like Christ as we not only acknowledge the reality of profiling and other racial realities, but also find a way to counter it, even in small ways. We have a responsibility to speak out in support of others and to call out injustice when we see it happening. To sympathize is simply not enough. Isaiah (1:17) tells his readers to “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression…” and bring justice to the causes of those who are harmed.

Two people, once divided by cultural backgrounds struggled together for racial reconciliation. Now friends by God’s grace and guidance they recommend a first step with what they dubbed the “Ignorant White Brothers Prayer”. Pray it in the first person for yourself, or in the third person for someone else.

“Lord, I just don’t know. I don’t understand how much my ignorance and apathy hurts others. I don’t even know how many ways I just don’t know! O God, open my eyes. Help me. I want to help. I just don’t know how because I know so little about THEM and their life here in America. God help me. Amen”

Be Salt

Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. Matthew 5:13 MSG

Salting a community may involve some wisdom and discernment to understand the further horizon of the path the community is taking. Salt, a preservative, gets rubbed in to prevent the long term damage of rot from within.

When we act as salt in our community we gather information, we see other perspectives to get a better understanding of the far horizon, the predictable outcomes of the status quo. Then we step into problem solving mode starting with personal change and conversational approaches to resolve conflict. Pick up some training in these skills. Just remember, you do not have control over results. Place yourself and your community into the Lord’s hands daily… start with that prayer right now.

Blessed are the peacemakers, 
for they shall be called sons of God. 
Matthew 5:9 ESV

• Be a peacemaker – Take a stand on the high ground of reconciliation, negotiation, mediation, and accountability. Learn these tools and ask your friends to hold you to them. Avoid the slippery slope of denial of racial tensions, avoidance of people and issues, verbal assault or degradation of groups of people, the advice to move into litigation or legislation

• Advocate - one that pleads the cause of another. Start in simple ways like noticing and commenting on racial labels, jokes, or profiling you bump into. Keep an eye out for indications when the Holy Spirit is calling you to step onto a broader stage for advocacy.

• End your Isolation. Who do you talk to in the line at Walmart? Cross your personal boundary and start up a conversation. Knock on a strange door in your neighborhood. Take an “Acquaintance” relationship to a higher level of “Friendship”.

• Toss out the script. Don’t think some kind of training or agenda or quick fix is the solution. In prayer commit yourself daily to the long journey of reconciling all in Christ. The place God will start is with your own heart.

• Donate your skills, not just your money, to an organization that crosses cultural and ethnic boundaries like Habitat, CareNet, PADS.

Be Light

Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. 
Isaiah 58:8 ESV

Our personal reflection from this series and further reading on the issues may begin to feel like a harsh beacon. We may want to turn the light off. But if we submit to God’s shaping and take the steps the Spirit indicates, the whole world gets a new dawn. As people who follow Jesus we become God’s tool to bring His glory into a brilliant presence for everyone.

Light delves into the shadows, so if you’ve bumped into questions these weeks make a list of them now, then go in search of information and share it with someone. Find ways to practice communication in a multiethnic way. That may mean forming some new relationships. Just remember that words of grace must be backed up with acts of compassion and service and justice. Turn Isaiah 58:8 into a prayer of praise for God’s faithfulness. Ask the Spirit to fuel your beacon. Pray for healing for our society and for specific individuals you know.