top of page

First Steps: An Invitation to See Our White Supremacy

Days after coming out of surgery for my jaw a couple of weeks ago, the doctors called me back to their office. It was very mysterious. They gathered around me to tell me that the MRI they had taken prior to surgery showed a mass in my brain that was of concern and I would need to get another MRI that day. I hate MRIs and the experience of climbing into those tubes of confinement and claustrophobic panic. Of course, a brain mass of some sort would mean I should have another one anyway.

Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh.  For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:  circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee;  as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:2-11

As Christians, many of us raise our hands in utter vulnerability and humility to worship on Sunday morning when any lyric in the music proclaims that we believe God is supreme and we are to be fully surrendered to Him. We believe that is the ultimate (not the hand raising worship, but the surrender) as we grab hold of John's words that He must become greater and I must become less. "Yes Lord! Let me be less that you may be more!"


Then, if we are white, we are asked to consider how we have been "more" in society, not just for the 400 years of America's history since the first enslaved people were brought to this land, but across the globe. Our raised hands quickly become fists and our outstretched arms to the Father fold in front of our chests, like an obstinate child. What happened?


How do we go from "Yes Lord make me less!!!!" to "How dare you accuse me and tell me what to do?"


For one, I think we are distracted by the messengers, we resent the messengers, we don't trust the messengers, we see right through those messengers and disqualify them with phrases like "political correctness" and "do gooders" and "liberal agendas" so we are off the hook from that awful judgment that we are anything but loving to all, accepting of all, not racist to any, and "good people who mean well."


But rarely in history has God spoken directly to His people, in His audible voice. He has, however, used prophets, donkeys, creation, rooster crows, and even wicked men to deliver His truth. We accept this. When its a "ruler or authority" that we admire, we remind everyone that God has called us to submit to ruling authorities. When its a ruler or authority we don't admire, we fervently look for righteous loopholes, forgetting that it was under Nero that God reminded His people:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. Romans 13:1-2

We can't possibly be authorities on every culture in existence, nor what it is like to live life in a body that is a different gender, nationality, from a different culturally conditioned family of origin, black, brown, tan or otherwise non-majority experience of the world.


Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:1-4

Could we go back to that place in worship when we, with all our hearts that we can access, desire, dream, and delight in "YES LORD!" and start to examine:

1. Why are we then so quick to say NO to actually "valuing others above ourselves in humility"?

2. Why are we so resistant (and sometimes even angered) when asked "not to look to your own interests but to the interests of others"?

3. Are we protecting God's glory or our own when we reject the invitation to see ways in which we may be blind to our own attitudes of supremacy, whether they be about whiteness, education, class, gender, cultural norms and preferences, and language?


So what about that MRI and brain mass? Well, thankfully it turned out to be a "benign cyst," but not thankfully, I have to follow up because it could become problematic in time. Did I have any idea that it was there before the MRI exposed it? Nope. Do I feel "fine"? Yup. So is the best course of action that I dismiss the medical authorities for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which being I don't have the energy to deal with it, because I don't think its a real problem? I don't think anyone would say that would be advisable.


Our supremacist sin lurks where we may not see it and there is never a convenient time to discover it or embark on addressing it. But it is there. And it is having an impact even if we aren't aware of it. Our supremacist thinking and being, like my brain cyst, isn't ours to fix alone or by our own wit, wisdom, or will power. We have a God who delights in transforming, healing, extracting, regenerating, and making us more into the image of the One Who has already finished this job that is being finished in us. Hallelujah and Yes Lord.

Comments


bottom of page