Strong Medicine

As I sit with my tissues, anti-biotic, vitamins, and hot tea trying to ride out this Covid diagnosis, my current unwellness puts a twist on what I was thinking for the article this month. Just as the pandemic has caused great pain, inconvenience, and loss, so has the disease of white supremacy. 

Strong disease requires strong medicine.  The USA has been in a state of dis_ease from the beginning.  Our forefathers compromised for wealth building and caused a collective searing of our souls and consciences.

If we are to rid ourselves of the dis_ease caused by white supremacy, it will require strong medicine and sacrifice that is similar to the pursuit of the common good the first century “People of the Way” were committed to.

All the believers were one in heart and mind.  No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” (Acts 4:32)

For 400-ish years our culture and economy were built upon the pursuit(s) of “life liberty, and happiness” for free, white, male, landowning individuals. These are temporary values, not eternal ones.  The second greatest commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself” requires we develop concerns and actions for each other both as individuals and as people groups, which are eternal.  Disciples are instructed to be especially attentive to individuals in groups who fall into the vulnerable “least of these” (Matthew 25).  

In the lives of Christ-followers, the constitution’s privileges are to remain subservient to the Gospel’s message and mission.  The Gospel is the higher law.  Although we may have legal rights to pursue mostly our own wellbeing, Jesus told us to . . .  

. . . Lay down your lives (rights) and pick up your cross (eternal mission) to follow” Him.

As cross-bearers, we serve a much more important and global community than our nation, political party, or even religious group (Matthew 16:24).  Jesus went on to say in the next breath . . .

Whosoever will save his life will lose it, but he who will lay down his life for my sake will find it” (v. 25).

Translated in my modern Courage words, that means,

Whoever will hoard their rights of freedom, prosperity, self-indulgence, exploitation, and dominance will lose the kingdom along with its blessing of laying down oneself for the wellbeing of the neighbor . . . even the neighbor who does not believe in me yet (Jesus). 

(Courage Translation)

For by this shall all people know that you are my disciples, that you have love one for another.” said Jesus.

(John 13:35)

Author, Dr. Jemar Tisby who wrote “The Color of Compromise” and “How to Fight Racism” says, “History and scripture teaches us that there can be no reconciliation without repentance.  There can be no repentance without confession, and there can be no confession without truth.”  Scripture supports Tisby’s statement in James chapter 5,

Is anyone among you in trouble?  . . . Is anyone sick?. . . Therefore, confess your sins to one another so that you might be healed. 

Confession admits sin, truth names sin without whitewashing it. Repentance turns away from sin. Repentance opens the pathway to reconciliation. If we read this verse in the context of its whole chapter, we see that James begins by warning the rich oppressors who . . .

  • (v.3) “hoarded wealth” -inequity
  • (v.4) “failed to pay workers” -exploitation
  • (v.5) “lived in luxury and self-indulgence” -at the expense of the workers
  • (v.6) “condemned and murdered the innocent one(s)” -injustice

Strong medicine is the only treatment for our sins of inequity, exploitation, defrauding, and false judgments which produce injustice toward the oppressed, innocent, and vulnerable. This strong medicine comes with uncomfortable, unapologetic words like “privileged,” “white supremacist,” “white nationalist,” “power monger,” “racist,” “misogynist,” and “abuser.”  We must confess our sins as communities and individuals with truthful, hard words so we do not repeat sinful history.

Doc Courage!

If we follow James’ prescription for healing, we will confess our sin without euphemisms or excuses.  Call out sin’s heinous truth including its consequences to those who have been sinned against.

Strong medicine will cure us, mature us, and reform us. It’s the beginning of the strong medicine we need to be saved (from our sins), delivered (from sin’s chronic grip), and healed (a whole, equitable, just, and well community).

By Doc Courage

References:

Courage, Loving Our Neighbors https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09LWP18WV

Tisby, The Color of Compromise https://www.amazon.com/Color-Compromise-American-Churchs-Complicity-ebook/dp/B07BB6R827

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