Racism, Revival, & the Messy Middle

Racism and revival. It may seem strange to talk about these two topics in the same breath, but I’m becoming increasingly convinced that a revival is happening right now. 

Things are messy — no doubt. Division is everywhere. Sides are clashing. But I believe what we’re seeing right now is a holy disruption in America. An exorcism of racism and prejudice now rippling around the world. A defining moment that’s forcing us to press reset on recycled, regurgitated religion and look into the mirror. It’s in this moment that I believe the Church has been given a divine opportunity to step up and embrace the empathy and understanding our faith should be defined by. 

As the left and right play tug-o-war, I believe God is giving His Church the opportunity to step into the messy middle.

This doesn’t fit neatly into a well written Bible plan or devotional. This moment doesn’t make for easy discussions, simple sermons, or loud worship services. My attempts to even write this article have felt entirely too feeble and weak. I’ve written it and rewritten it — second guessing nearly every line. 

Yet, despite all of this messiness and uncertainty, I’d like to argue that all of this “messiness” proves the legitimacy of this revival.

If you look at scripture, revival is always messy. The people of Israel crossing the muddy sea floor while their slave driving enemies drowned behind them… messy (Exodus 14). New life being breathed into an army of dry, decaying bones… messy (Ezekiel 37:1-14).  Jesus’ disciples denying and abandoning their soon to be resurrected Savior… messy (Luke 22:54-62).

But like all revivals, the enemy is against this one. He wants to drive division whenever possible and in this moment he’d love to push us all into our corners so that reconciliation and unity is practically impossible. 

Nothing is off limits. He’ll gladly use arguments over politics, presidential races, and even semantics to distract us. As we retreat to the comfort of our own opinions and preferences he’ll also be more than happy to invite us into cycles of fear & anxiety. 

“If we’ll just stay afraid… if we’ll just stay silent… if we’ll just blame the other side… if we’ll just give up on a better tomorrow…”

But let me say this, this last ditch effort of the enemy can be just that. 

The enemy’s grip can and will loosen. This stronghold can come up and come out. The world is being taught right now to see deeper than skin color, nationality, political philosophy, and agenda.

Of course, the opposite is also happening, but I’m convinced this is a refining fire that God is going to use. He always does. Our God is a God of the living — of imperfect people like you and me. This means it’s always going to be messy.

This is important to remember because He is loyal to those made in His image — not a flag, political party, or presidential candidate. He loves the oppressed and even the oppressor. He sees all sides and He’s ready to meet us in the messy middle. 

As we see the best and the worst of each other right now, I pray that we don’t forget this. I pray that we empty ourselves so that we’re willing vessels ready for God to pour into. I pray that we’re not so set on our agenda that we forget God’s.

If you’re wondering what to do next, let me encourage you to do what I see Jesus doing throughout scripture. 

Support the broken-hearted. 

Comfort those in pain. 

Stand with those being oppressed. 

Yes, it will be messy.

Yes, you will be misunderstood.

Yes, it will be difficult.

But most importantly, it will be worth it.

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