Global Mission, Racial Reconciliation
A Look from a Different Angle
September 14, 2020
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My wife prefers that I drive. When she drives, I accidentally annoy her by saying things like “you can go faster here” or “you should pass that trailer now.” Not to mention that if I drive, she has extra time to retouch her make-up. After 29 years of marriage, I have learned not to make those unwelcome suggestions anymore but her sixth sense tells her, “he may not say it, but he is thinking it.” So, I distract myself looking to the other side of the road.
Anyway, the other day I forgot my wallet with my driver’s license, and she had to be behind the steering wheel. To my big surprise, as soon as we approached the road at a 60-degree downhill slope and a sharp curve, I saw a different panorama that I have not paid attention to in a two-year period driving almost every day.
I recognized the road, but I never paid attention to the trees, stone walls, and houses on the other side. They have always been there, but I never noticed. It was as if I had a blind spot on that side of the road. How did I miss it every time? I was not able to see the view until I was forced to look the other way and someone else was driving.
Being almost always in the driver’s seat gives me only one view and one perspective. I cannot look beyond the curve, so it’s short-sighted. The topography of the road dictates what I should focus on.
While reflecting on this, it reminded me of another experience. It happens that I was hosting online Listening Gatherings on racism. They were a safe place where people could share their experiences on racial discrimination. I was profoundly touched by what I heard. I was hearing from brothers and sisters whom I already knew, but I had never before heard their stories and harsh realities. Their stories were eye-opening for me. Suddenly, I felt their pain. On the final day of the Listening Gatherings, I asked an Anglo sister to end the program by telling us what these gatherings meant for her. She was so moved by the destructive reality of racism among our surrounding people that she could barely speak.
By now, I am sure you have begun to wonder what a story about my wife driving the car has to do with racism. You may have started to wonder if you should keep reading or not. Okay, I get it. Here it is. To have a look from a different angle, you must let someone else drive. You listen with empathy and observe, take a posture of curiosity, and let the other unique driving style take place. Listen. Let others speak. Respect the driver. Take turns. By doing so, both will have a more balanced, enriched, and enjoyable life ride.
The disciples, despite their many mistakes, made a wise, radical decision when trying to figure out how to deal with a “murmuring” in Acts 6: 1-7. The Greek widows were protesting the distribution of food, saying something like: “What is the matter with the apostles? Why are they helping the Aramaic widows more than us? Are they turning a blind eye on us?” So, the disciples asked the people to appoint seven men to serve tables. Guess who they chose: the seven men who all had Greek names. The disciples approved them. Why? It seems that the people and the disciples recognized that one group was always in the driver’s seat. They were always in control. It wise to let the other group participate too.
“I would imagine there were more Aramaic-speaking Christians in the church than there were Greek-speaking Christians, but the church as a whole said, ‘Let’s elect Greek-speaking leaders (Boice).’”
Stott said: "It is not suggested that the oversight was deliberate, more probably the cause was poor administration or supervision."
If so, I ask, how does it come that the returning migrants, or diaspora, Jews were the ones in disadvantage? Could it be unconscious bias playing a role there?
There were some marked differences between the Greeks and Aramaic Jews (the language, lifestyle, and view of Scripture). Unconscious bias? Let me remind you that there was no “unconscious bias training” in those days. However, the Holy Spirit was present to work on peoples’ conscious when choosing the seven.
Here some questions to meditate on:
For your family:
How does it inhibit growth opportunities for everyone at home when one parent is the only decision maker?
For your local church and classis:
How do they invite others to serve in the decision making, not only to participate at the table but also have the opportunity to be at the head of the table? Who are those “Greeks” in our congregation that have no voice when the person in the driver seat is always the one of majority culture?
For your denomination:
What principles can the CRCNA draw from this wise, radical decision made by the people and the disciples to choose all table servers from a minority background?
Marco Avila is Resonate Global Mission's regional mission leader for the Eastern USA region
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