The last several months, and particularly the last several days, have had me pondering the line. I thought I had a handle on the line how I should help my son navigate its dangerous path. But something Braelon said to me the other day made me re-examine a few things. Our conversation had to do with what Rick Perry called “the accident” in Charleston, South Carolina (of course, his people said he meant incident but . . . . . .). We both agreed the perpetrator was a murderer, a terrorist whose heart was full of irrational hate. And then, he uttered the words “that white man. . . . ” and I gasped and stopped him there.
I reminded Braelon of an essay he wrote this past January, an awarding winning essay, about all of humanity being the same underneath these protective layers of skin. The essay talked about us all being created in the image of God. I reminded him that the terrorist (murderer, fool) killed innocent, worshipping Christians based on the very thing he was referring to at that moment – skin color. I had to remind him that the issue really boils down to whether you have heard about and believe God, whether you have heard about and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ and whether you have heard about and believe in the indwelling Holy Spirit. I told him these things, as the Spirit gave utterance, because I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me.
My dad was from Jackson, Mississippi. He grew up in a time when it could be grievous to forget that there was a line and deadly to forget where the line was and how far it extended; where your place was, in society, as it related to the majority race. Having survived life in the segregated south and having carved out a comfortable life for himself and his family, my dad learned and internalized many things. A lot of these lessons and warnings made their way into my life; into my psyche. A lot of these lessons and warnings became mine, experientially, while others were made my own because my dad “told me so.” So Braelon, is very familiar with the line; how ignoring it or crossing it can prove fatal and how pushing it can be detrimental. But he also knows that he has the power to push the line; that as long as he remains in His will, God can use evil to make good. (President Obama said it best and if you have not heard the eulogy he delivered at Clemente Pinckney’s funeral, please listen. It was awesome!)
So what of the line? In my mind’s eye, it extends to the right and left of center and with every positive gain for humanity, the line shortens either from the right (mostly) or the left – toward center. With every gain, the line diminishes (until the day when there is no line, simply a dot marking history). In the toxic climate that permeates a good bit of the country (and world), it seems proper to teach Braelon about the line because the knowledge could actually save his life. There are areas and environments where habit provides comfort for ignorance and hate and where misguided and evil instincts drive action. Yes, we now have talk of removing tangible signs of hatred and discord but what took so long? When I lived in Columbia, South Carolina, I had the occasion to march against the waving flag of defeat flying over the capital building. Still, a majority of votes has kept the flag flying in defiance and moral odium. And so what if hatred’s symbolism is removed in South Carolina, in the south, in the country? Rev. Dr. William Barber II reminded us that while the perpetrator of the terrorist act in Charleston has been apprehended, the killer is still among us. And so hate is!
Paul said, in 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 (NRS), that “our aim is to please Him always, whether we are here in this body or away from this body. For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in our bodies.” So, we who believe must do what God says even as we are aware of and are crossing the line. Killing in houses of worship is not new. Murdering for a misguided ideology is not new. Oh but the ability of God to overcome it all is not new either. God is able and He will make it all right – on this side or on the glorious side of the Charleston Nine!
So yea, there is a line and according to the Bible, it will remain here until God clears it out for good. But that is not our concern. Our concern, if we love Him, is to do His will, knowing that He will cause all things to eventually work together for our good (Romans 8:28), even in the face of the line and all it represents.
Be Blessed, Regina