–from Justice to Reconciliation
from Fight like a Man: A New Manhood for a New Warfare
by Gordon Dalbey
(Paperback/cd/mp3 at www.abbafather.com)
African-American Ben Kinchlow, former co-host of The 700 Club, describes in his autobiography his rage at the racism he experienced as a young man.[i] One evening years later, a friendly white minister John Corcoran invited him and his wife to dinner and during their conversation Kinchlow began talking about those experiences.
Soon his anger morphed into fury:
I clenched my fists in a final spasm of anger and, breathing heavily, stared hard across the table into the face of Corcoran, this nondescript, sandy-haired young preacher with the long nose. He looked into my eyes. I wanted him to feel my hatred, my contempt, my anger, my pain. . . . Several seconds went by, and I found my rage subsiding, like a storm that had blown itself out. . . . Suddenly it dawned on me. John was crying.
Later, Kinchlow reflected on that upending experience:
He was crying–not because he was embarrassed or angry with me, but because he cared. He cared for me, the angry, overwhelmed, black young American. In that instant I knew somewhere inside that he loved me with a love that exceeded anything I had ever felt for anyone or anything. That man loved me.
Corcoran wept not fearfully, as a child, because Kinchlow’s rage had frightened or hurt him, but faithfully, as a mature Christian. That is, he saw with the compassionate eyes of Jesus the terrible pain in his guest that had prompted that rage.
What if Corcoran had chosen to suppress his tears–and instead defended white people, quoted Scriptures on controlling anger, or jumped on the bandwagon by condemning racism in other whites? Clearly, this momentous opportunity to witness the transforming, victorious love of Jesus would’ve been lost.
Kinchlow later talks about that experience as “the night John Corcoran saw the real Ben Kinchlow and cried”:
I encountered at that dinner the sort of compassion Jesus spoke so much about and that his followers later wrote about in the New Testament. I know now that John was living out Paul the apostle’s appeal to the Christians that they “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2RSV). Although I was not yet a Christian, he actually had taken upon himself my suffering and frustration, thoroughly identifying with me.
Over 50 years after the Civil Rights Act, amid today’s yet-racially-troubled times, the call for economic and social justice for people of color perseveres. Reconciliation, however—that is, healing the hearts of both wounder and wounded—struggles to find a clear focus.
That’s because only God can do this heart operation, and we His people have not allowed Him to do it.
Civil rights, that is, are necessary to God’s justice but not sufficient to His reconciliation. Neither rational understanding, political correctness, nor religious dogma can reconcile human hearts.
In fact, as John the Baptist proclaimed, victory for God’s justice and reconciliation in this broken world belongs to those who “Prepare a road for the Lord, make straight a path for him to travel” (Matt. 3:3).
Thus, John Corcoran’s surrendered, heartfelt compassion opened the door for Holy Spirit to enter not only his own heart, but Ben Kinchlow’s as well. That’s how wholly justified anger was transformed into wholly genuine love.
On the Cross, Jesus demonstrated that those who would fight genuinely to alleviate others’ suffering must identify genuinely with their pain. But there’s the rub: no white person can grasp fully the wounding and shame which people of color endure.
That’s why we need Jesus to mediate it for us–as for example, in John Corcoran.
In fact, that’s the true meaning of compassion, from the Latin com=together and passio=suffering. It’s the hallmark of those who join with Jesus to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
COMPASSION AND FREEDOM
But maybe all this anger and crying seems to you like a lot of useless emotion. I can only report that God used it profoundly in reconciling Ben Kinchlow and John Corcoran. `
For others who read this and wish, on the other hand, that you could have such compassion and the freedom it bestows, I have Good News: God hears you. In fact, He longs to give that to you and is just waiting for you to ask.
Don’t bother worrying whether you can make it happen, because you can’t.
But you can get on your knees before the God who has already done it in Jesus, beg Him for mercy, and thereby make a highway for His grace to enter your heart.
Search me and know my heart, as King David prayed, find out if there is any evil in me and lead me in the everlasting way (Ps. 139:23NIV, 24).
Specifically, you can ask God to reveal the racism in your heart and humbly ask Him to forgive you for it. If you’ve grown up in Western culture, don’t waste your time and mine telling me you don’t have any. A fish that swims in a polluted stream gets contaminated by the pollution.
Get real with yourself and with God, and as David cried out, let Him “guide (you) on the road to eternal life” (vs 24TLB).
If the thought of such disclosure makes you feel shame, then you understand in some small measure what we white people have displaced onto those of color. If actually doing it makes you cry, then you know how Jesus feels about that.
In any case, the history lesson is clear: if you don’t give your shame to Jesus and let Him eliminate it, you’re likely to dump it on others and spread it.
CALL OUT THE EVIL
Those with faith and courage to be so real will discover that racism is not just a way of thinking, but an evil spirit designed by the enemy of God and humanity to separate you from Him and from others. Take the authority Jesus died to give you and in His name cast that evil spirit out of your heart and into His hands (see Luke 9:1). Ask Father God to replace it with works of His Holy Spirit instead: compassion and respect for your fellow God-created human beings. (see “How Demons Enter—and Leave” in No Small Snakes: A Journey into Spiritual Warfare).
My chapter “Victory over Racism” in Fight like a Man tells the story of how I struggled to face the racism in myself. I learned then that casting out an evil spirit may not stop it from speaking to you, but more important for a mature Christian, it frees you to choose whether to listen to the evil spirit or to God’s Holy Spirit.
Meanwhile, our human sin nature means none of us can measure up to God’s standard. This universal inadequacy leaves us saddled us with unbearable shame. Jesus died on the cross to bear that shame for us, drop the scales from our self-focused eyes, and let us see ourselves at last as Father God’s sons and daughters—and thereby, as brothers and sisters.
While you’re at it, therefore, ask God to show you the shame in you which fuels racism. Unmask its “I’m OK, because you’re not OK” ploy to fabricate righteousness. Ask Him to forgive you for not letting Him make you OK in Jesus, bind and cast the spirit of shame out of you, then pray for Him to replace it with His grace and the dignity of son/daughtership (see Romans 8:1, :14-16). Such security in your own heart will enable grace in you to see that dignity in others.
This can happen. Not because we’re so righteous, but because Jesus has for some unfathomable reason died to save us self-serving posers with a share in His righteousness. It’s called grace.
There is no difference at all, as Paul declared; everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence. But by the free gift of God’s grace, all are put right with him through Christ Jesus, who sets them free (Rom. 3:22-24).
A THING OF THE PAST–?
“But,” some white people would protest, “now that we have the Civil Rights Act and a Black President, racism is a thing of the past and the pain is gone.”
If you believe that, my Christian brother or sister, dare to ask a black person—and get ready to listen, not just with your ears but with your heart. In fact, our country and this world yet labor under the heavy yoke of racism—from color-coded neighborhoods and officially sanctioned shootings to deliberate indifference.
Even now, even among us, God is advancing His Kingdom, calling for a change among us not only of law and politics, but of heart—the likes of which John Corcoran displayed, which Ben Kinchlow embraced, and which only God’s Spirit can accomplish.
To be sure, racism—as sin—infects human beings of all colors; the devil is an equal opportunity destroyer. As a Christian of European ancestry, however, I would urge others of my faith and racial heritage to own up to this evil among us and go to Jesus to remove it from within us. With that humble honesty and deliberate faith, we can join God’s next move against racism from justice to reconciliation.
The Father of us all has done His part. In Jesus, He has issued a manufacturer’s recall on our shame-bound human hearts.
I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed, He promises. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you… (Ezek. 26:26,27TMB).
For God’s sake, my Christian brothers and sisters, let Him do that in you—indeed, for the sake of your own heart and for others whose hearts and lives have been broken by our racism.
i Ben Kinchlow, Plain Bread (Dallas: Word Books, 1985) 20, 154.