This blog is written by Marlysa Gamblin, a regular ICCM workshop facilitator and content collaborator. Learn more about her and her work at the bottom of this blog post!
As a racial equity expert and coach, I have the honor of speaking with Christians across the country about how to identify and dismantle racism. One thing I have noticed is that many Christians believe racism is wrong. We may even go a step further and say that it harms the children of God and is a sin. Some of us may even commit to attending a march, signing a petition, posting on social media, hosting an event at church, or starting a book club on what it means to be antiracist.
While these efforts are good initial steps, we are often not going deeper into our calling to be the hands and the feet of Christ. When it comes to racism, this means that Christians must address racism in a way that is Christ-like. Fortunately, there are many characteristics of Jesus to help us go deeper into this calling of being His hands and feet as we fight racism. For now, I will focus on three: servant leadership, humility, and boldness.
Christ was a servant leader. In other words, His goal was not to put himself first, but rather to put the needs of the people first. This meant active listening, having a sensitivity to the pain present among the community, and intentionally being responsive to what He saw, heard, and felt. When we take this principle and apply it to the work of addressing racism, it means that we too are invited to be servant leaders. In the case of racism, it means we ought to be explicit about putting the needs of those who continue to experience racial oppression at the forefront, until this is no longer a reality. It means for all of us – especially our white brothers and sisters who have long benefited from being heard and protected – to actively listen to what harm has been done and what harm continues to be done to our brothers and sisters of color. It means we all have a sensitivity to the pain present among our fellow brothers and sisters as a result of systemic racism. But it can’t stop there. Servant leadership also means that we are responsive to what we see and hear by committing to ongoing antiracist action.
Christ was humble. Humility often gets overlooked. It requires the Holy Spirit to help us carry it out to its fullest. When it comes to racism, we must be full of the Spirit to actively help us practice humility when we are invited to course correction for maintaining racism. Instead of getting defensive, which is a natural human inclination, let us lean into what is meant by realizing that as humans, there are things we have learned that we need to unlearn. As Christians, God places people in our path to help us sharpen ourselves and become like Christ. Being humble when we are called out for perpetuating racism is a gift–let’s look at it as such so that we can grow as we try to dismantle racism.
Christ was bold. Being bold against injustices that are gross sins against God’s desire for His children simply means that we are deciding not to conform to this world and how this world sees and treats people of color. Instead, we are acting in accordance to how God has called us to love, see, and value our brothers and sisters. It means speaking vocally and praying fiercely. It means not being silent to the sin that we see or even benefit from. This often comes with a cost, but Christ has already paid the ultimate cost on the cross. Even more, I have realized that being bold is an act of faith because we are no longer concerned about the consequences that may come for doing what Jesus would do. Instead, we are walking deeper into faith because we recognize that God has called for such a time as this; that God is our Provider; and that no human can take away what God has for us as we pursue boldness. That God has placed us in our jobs, churches, communities, and businesses intentionally and we are on assignment. Fulfilling this assignment in its entirety requires boldness to not conform to this world, to help course correct, and to call out racism just as boldly as Jesus called out other forms of social injustices.
I invite everyone to reflect on how YOU can take the next step to be the hands and feet of Jesus when it comes to ending racism. It is not about merely reading a book, hosting an event, or signing a petition. It is about the way we live. The way we respond to course correcting accountability, and the way we help others course correct. Not once a year. Not once a month. Not even once a week. But daily. This is the calling we have. This is the calling I am inviting everyone not to forget as we join shoulder to shoulder to fight racism, as Christ has called us to.
Marlysa D. Gamblin is the Founder and CEO of GamblinConsults, an anti-racism and racial equity consulting company that helps institutions and individuals, including churches, dismantle racism and promote racial equity. Through her 6 week coaching opportunity titled “Life Changing Practices to Identify and Dismantle Racism in 45 Days,” Marlysa helps Christians adopt the frameworks that God has revealed to her to effectively develop the practices needed to identify how racism is showing up and adequately dismantle it. Feel free to visit marlysagamblin.com to learn more about Marlysa, God’s calling on her life to address racism, and her work!
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