Division and Reconciliation

I have never felt more ashamed or out of touch than I did this past week when I moderated a panel of black and white pastors discussing the topic of racial reconciliation.  I heard firsthand, perhaps for the first time, the hearts of well-meaning black men who have been profiled and unjustly treated by a white culture.

I heard how a black pastor’s wife had been stopped for no reason other than she was driving a nice car in a nice, white neighborhood.  I heard how she was challenged by authorities who asked how she could afford such an expensive car.

From one of the white pastors, I heard how his mischievous teen aged son had been gently accosted by police in the middle of the night.  Nothing but a mild slap on the wrist.  And then I heard how black members of his congregation called him on it and said that if the boy had been black, the outcome would have undoubtedly been different.  Messy.  Perhaps fatal.

From the black pastors, I heard pleas for respect and fairness.  I heard admissions of anger, bitterness, resentment turn to understanding, tolerance and love once Jesus Christ entered their lives.

I heard white pastors and a white moderator try to explain away our own biases and misunderstandings…I heard ignorance and denial, not wanting to admit the need for corporate and personal repentance.

But most of all, I heard the need for Jesus.  Simply Jesus.  In a culture looking like a sea of animosity and divisiveness, I sensed that we’re all striving for the same thing.  But the paths look totally different.  I’ve had white privilege all my life.  My black friends know that and admit that they have to work harder, be stronger, and excel against all odds.

Racial reconciliation.  Hard to discuss, even harder to accomplish in our broken, sinful world.  But we have to try.  And we have to talk to our children, friends and co-workers to be sure it’s on our moral radar.  Without doing our part, we can slide precariously back into days gone by where black and whites didn’t eat together, drink from the same fountain, or even worship together.  We’ve got a lot of work to do.  It starts today with believing there are problems.  “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” (Hosea 4:6).  Join me as we pray for reconciliation.


Barbara Beck


PS – Speaking of knowledge, you might be interested in looking up the origin of Division Street in Orlando.  You can only imagine, right?