November 24, 2017

Without Borders: Time to stand up

By Chris Rich

I have no idea what it is like to live as an African-American or for that matter any other race than a Caucasian in America.  I have no idea what it is like to be looked differently or treated differently solely because of the color of my skin or the way that I talk.  I can never truly “walk in their shoes” or “feel their pain.”

But, as I sit and reflect on the day in which we celebrate Martin Luther King I must admit that we have a long way to go.  We have come a long way, but we have a long way still to go.

As I listen to the song Damian Lillard put out today titled “Bigger than Us” I am moved to write.  I am moved to do something.  I am moved to see change.  I am moved to Love.  I am moved to see UNITY.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”

It is time to stop being like the rest of the world.  It is time to be different.

It is time for me, a white person living in America, to stop being quick to tweet judgment and post to social media. It is time for me to walk alongside my African-American brothers and sisters and carry their burdens with them.

It is time for us to stop profiling and putting people in a box.  It is time to get to know them.  It is time to sit down and learn from them, to hear their stories, to weep with them, to mourn with them but also to celebrate with them!

When I look at a huddle, in the midst of a game, I see one of the few places where color does not matter.  I see a place where the only color that matters is the color on your jersey.

As I have said before, we have a platform within the world of sports.  It does not take long to realize that in the world of sports, it is about more than you and it is about more than the game you play.

Sports have a way of uniting us in tragedy.

And today, I pray that it UNITES us for something bigger than ourselves.  Racial Reconciliation matters, it matters to me and it matters to God, and if we are silent about it today our life and our world will begin to end.

It is time to stand up!

Notice I do not say, “It is time to speak up.”  I am tired of speaking up.  I am tired of us talking and never acting.  It is time to stand up and be the change.

God created each and every one of us.  The Bible calls it “Imago Dei” or the Image of God.  Genesis 1:27 says “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

So, if God created us ALL in His image then why does it only take a quick look at CNN or Fox News or any news outlet to see the enormous racial divide in our world today?

The problem is, as Benjamin Watson of the New Orleans Saints put it, “not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem.”  It is a SIN problem because we look at people as “others” instead of looking at them as image bearers of their creator.

Racism and prejudice is ultimately fueled by sin within us.  It starts with us looking at one person with more favor than others based solely on the color of their skin.  And in writing this I have to admit that I have done this at points in my life.  I believe we all have because we look at the world through a set of glasses based on the way we were raised, in the area we were raised and yes, by the color of our skin.

I believe there is only one way that we will ever achieve UNITY. One way that we will ever see the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the plan that God intended for the world come true and that is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ being proclaimed in our lives to ALL people.

Christ came to this earth to tear down the walls of sin.  To open our eyes and REVEAL the sin we have in our lives.  He came to this earth to RECONCILE us to Him and to RESTORE this world.

He has come to REVEAL the sin in our lives and this includes the racial divide in our country and our world today.  Revealing hurts sometimes.  It means having to take a deep look inside yourself.

It is so easy to sit and judge from one perspective the sins of those around you. The sins of those on T.V. But, it is hard when we have our own sin revealed to us.  The sin of prejudice and of racism.  But, that’s where this all starts.

It starts in the revealing of your sin.  My sin.  Each of our individual sin.

Christ came to RECONCILE us to Him.  Once our sin in revealed we must be reconciled because a sin against another man of prejudice or racism (whether in thoughts, words or action) is a sin against God.

We cannot truly reconcile the relationships around us without first reconciling our relationship to the one who created us.  When we sin, we are torn apart from God.  However, through His Son we can be reconciled to Him.

Reconciliation to God must change us.

It must change the way we look at the world and the way we look at one another.  Where or how we were raised, the color of our skin Is no longer the lens by which we view the world.

We must begin to view the world through the eyes of God.  The eyes of God love every man and every woman on this earth no matter the color of their skin, the actions of their past or the way they talk.  We must love each and every person with the same love.

This is where we have a divide in our country.  We have a divide in our churches.  In the lives of Christians.  We want the world to change but we aren’t even willing to look inside of ourselves for the change that needs to start inside of us.

Finally, He came to this earth to RESTORE it.  My prayer is this, that through each of us taking a deep look inside of ourselves God will reveal the prejudice and racism in our hearts and be able to RESTORE us.  Be able to RESTORE the way we talk about, look at and treat one another.

No change in this world can happen without first happening in ourselves.  I believe this is why Dr. King said “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”  He knew that until he chose to love everyone the same he could not ask those around him to do the same.

So I write this as a challenge.  A challenge that each one of us individually would look deep down inside of ourselves and see what we must change.

That we would stop being silent about racism.

That we would be the difference in this world.  That as athletes, coaches and spectators we would model on the sports field.

That we would be moved into action. That we would love one another as Christ loved us and that we would stop seeing the color of a man but seeing the heart instead!

I believe that Dr. King’s dream can be revealed because it was what God planned for this world.  It is how God desires us to live.  In UNITY.

Let’s STAND UP. Let’s BE DIFFERENT.

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