February is Black History Month, and it is likely that this month is needed in 2017 more than any year since. In a time of turmoil and division, it opens up an opportunity for racial divides to be bridged. David Mathis recently wrote,
“As a white Christian in America, I have wrestled with what it means to orient on Black History Month. I remember well my unsympathetic heart as a teenager growing up in the South — not only uninformed, but unrighteous — leading me to roll my eyes and say, “So, when’s White History Month?” Such is not the spirit of Christ, nor is it walking by his Spirit to suspect the worst of non-blacks who rush to join the annual celebration. Nor is it Christian — not in this nation or any other place on the planet — to keep silent with our children about the realities of ethnicity in view of Christ. If we don’t cast a positive vision for our children about the glories of God-designed ethnic diversity, we leave their inherent ethnocentrism to swell and take root.
Rather, as Christians, we can rehearse the many reasons why we love ethnic diversity. And where the grand, theological, and global theory meets practice is in the particular locality in which God has placed us. God not only “made from one man every nation of mankind,” but he also “determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17:26). For most of us in the United States, the Christian journey to loving all peoples will eventually take on countless shades and textures, but it typically begins very Black and White.”
“Black History Month isn’t simply about ethnic diversity in general, but remembering the horrors of our shared history and celebrating the progress that has been made, in God’s common kindness, and specifically the many successes of black Americans despite such a history. Christians honor this month, at least in part, because it helps us understand the awful plight of a people made in God’s image, many of them fellow believers, and acknowledges God’s goodness at work in remarkable achievements (like the presidency) in and through a people who often have been treated with utter wickedness.”
So, what might be some of the ways that a white Christian in America can celebrate and honor this month? One of my favorites is through reading. There are a host of articles that have posted the last couple of weeks by thoughtful folks regarding Black History Month. Here are a few:
We Need Black History Month, by David Mathis
More Than a Month Long, by Trillia Newbell
Black History Month: John Chavis (1763-1838), by Kevin DeYoung
5 Facts About Black History Month, by Joe Carter
Or, you could listen to Bryan Loritts encouraging the necessity of all Christians to cross ethnic lines and invest in others who are different than us. He recently preached the message, Right Color, Wrong Culture: Pursuing Multi-ethnic Cultural Engagement at ERLC’s National Conference, in the hopes of helping us all build relationships that look more like God’s intention for the church.
And certainly, far more effective than reading or listening to something online would be to strike up a conversation with someone different than you, preferably over a cup of coffee or a meal, to begin the path down increased understanding, transformation, and beautiful relationships of multi-ethnic diversity.
I am certain there are many other great ways you could pursue celebrating Black History Month. If you have any you’d like to share, please do so in the comments section below.
I am praying with you and for you, that God would align our hearts with his mission to reach all nations, and call them out of darkness to enter the light of Jesus, and be a part of his beautiful bride, the church.