I woke up this morning knowing I’d be writing this. Part of me was excited about finally getting to write this. To let out into the world the thoughts that have been forming in my mind so that real progress can be made and that this little organization, Voice of the Middle Ground can be part of moving us toward that progress. The other part of me is afraid. Because it would be easy to leave things the way they’ve been. Because it would be easier to not wake the sleeping guardians of the internet and the keyboard warriors who take more pride in their ability to attack conversations about diversity as demonic and of the devil so they can stay comfortable in the reality they’ve created for themselves that is so divergent from the reality they’d see if they ever stepped outside of their plastic bubbles filled with the warped perspective of media outlets, and a list of history books that tell the lie that the battle against racism and inequality and that the need for diversity movements are things that ended with the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s.
Maybe worse than the keyboard warrior is the Christian who chooses to stay ignorant of the facts. To not see the hurt happening around them. Neutrality is the ground they claim. Colorblindness is what they say we need. They call on verses like Galatians 3:28 and forget all about Revelation 7. This false sense of unity isn’t what’s needed. Unfortunately, it’s the kind of passive thought process that’s come from churches for far too long. And, it’s led to overlooking societal wrongs for far too long. It’s led to churches communicating whether on purpose or not, through preaching, practice, or some combination of both that, if people want to be accepted by our churches that they have to check their identity at the door. Or worse, Christians step back from conversations about racism, inequality, diversity, and racial division because they want to avoid the need to be “all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:22).
White Christians in America have the space to step away from these conversations. And many, if they don’t attack these conversations directly as demonic, call them political. But people of color don’t have the space to step away from these conversations. Because, for us, they’re more than just conversations. They’re realities. Funny thing is, people seem to understand this when it comes to their own feelings of losing freedom to the point where they’re willing to actually talk politics and sometimes even advocate for candidates from the pulpit when it helps them to keep in this place of comfort with the sickness that is the status quo. This isn’t real hope. Real hope comes from looking at the reality and the problems head-on and understanding that very real problems do exist. And, that it doesn’t end there. God is bigger than the problems we face. His heart isn’t one that dismisses either our pains or the diversity he’s built into the people in this world he’s created. And, more than that, the Cross isn’t a dead thing or a relic from 2000 years ago. Its message speaks to the brokenness of individuals, communities, and even races. God is with us. One more point before I get more into that. We don’t need you to fix us. That’s God’s job. And, as he heals, he brings us together in him. The place where he fills in the cracks creates something better than we can imagine and shows the world more about who God is.
In heaven what will surprise us most isn’t the unity displayed in the robes and palm branches of heaven. What will most surprise us are the differences God keeps–not because he doesn’t understand the pains they carry. Exactly because he does. If we look at Revelation 7:9-17 we see how God in one brush brings attention to the fact that even in the place of heaven where we might think these differences might not be emphasized, God sees each of us individually from our background to our language. Yes, race is included in this. And yes, there’s this picture of our unity in Christ. But we’re then also brought around to this picture of individual pain and struggle. Hunger. Thirst. The sun. And even the pains that aren’t specifically named, the sources of these tears that will be no more. The question is what will we do until then. Because, until that day, these pains are still very much here. And, as ambassadors for Christ, it’s our calling to share God’s heart with the world.
This is where Voice of the Middle Ground comes in. Because there are already enough books and resources out there either telling us to tear each other apart at the seams and that division is the only way out of this or that people of color need to forget the horrors of slavery and genocide. That we need to ignore pain or that we need to take the place of God and try to fix people. That the Church has no place in this arena or that the Church in America has the right to stand in ignorance about the crimes it has committed against people of color while this same church tells people of color (whether intentionally or unintentionally) that all we need to help us get over these challenges is a right relationship with the White Jesus who marks the walls of the places where they gather. There’s no possibility of healing without truth. And, healing also cannot exist in a place where we’re so focused on getting over reality that we forget to work through it.
So, this is our promise to you as we go forward. We’ll provide resources and educational materials and opportunities focused on this goal–helping us all to work through and navigate these conversations about diversity, racism, and how we can heal as we look forward to the Revelation 7 world of heaven. We’ll partner with and offer training to other organizations willing to walk this path with us. When we see opportunities for action that are in line with this Revelation 7 vision, we’ll move in line with that action. Voice of the Middle Ground remains committed to the call of the gospel. But what does this gospel mean to the world if this voice of the gospel never leaves the arena of thoughts and conversations?