Boost Your Cultural IQ
Many Colors talks about the need to acknowledge past mistakes of the dominant culture. You don't say as much about the role of forgiveness on the part of minority-culture believers. As a pastor, have you ministered to minority believers who find it as hard to forgive past sins as it is for many white believers to accept them?
We've got to take it one step at a time. Before grace can be extended, forgiveness must be asked. I think maybe that's something we need to look at as a community: What does authentic forgiveness look like, the requesting of forgiveness and the granting of forgiveness? I touch on it a little bit when I talk about this idea of lament. What does it mean for us to lament together? That's not just the oppressor towards the persecuted, but it also the oppressed lamenting along with the oppressor, that we've lost something together in our shared negative history. And that's part of the process of forgiveness.
Some would suggest that this idea—that an offender has to ask forgiveness before the wronged party can extend grace--goes against the biblical concept of a Messiah who said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" while hanging on a cross.
I would expand on that comment a bit more. There is a process for the forgiveness of sin. The onus is on the offender to seek forgiveness. While grace could be extended unilaterally, that does not absolve or excuse the offender from seeking forgiveness.
How do Christians with a genuine interest in ethnic diversity overcome distrust or skepticism in those they're trying to connect with?
The church [is] the institution that can do this so much better than any other institution, because we have a theological language of forgiveness, of working through difficulties together—of the body of Christ interdependent in such a way that we can't live without one another.
Honestly, in some sense, it is much easier to stick with our own. Go to our own type of churches, go to our ethnic-specific or socioeconomically specific churches. Your faith and your way of looking at the world is not going to be challenged as much. But as I look at it in my own life, the Scripture is calling me to engage with the gospel message in such a way that it transforms not just who I am, but also what's happening in our society and our culture.
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