Crossing the Bridge of the Great Racial Divide

I met a black man last week. He’s on the construction team working to replace the bridge along this Colorado ranch road.

bridgeworkahead

Initially ours was a simple conversation. He was doing his thing, on his side of the road. I was doing my own thing, on the opposite side. Our paths crossed in a warm greeting, then he inquired. He asked me about the ranch, our work. And so this door opened. I shared with him our summer adventure story, telling him about our Minnesota roots and how we’re spending a few months up here in high country. Then, it was my turn to ask about his work, his family. And so it went. It was simple, really.

Then Charleston.

I don’t know about you but this, this latest evil has broken my spirit. The same leather-cracked spirit that feels overwhelmed by the whiplash of racial explosions rippling across our nation over the years.

It’s cause to stop and ask, “What is going on here?” It’s cause for me, a white girl living in a predominately white community, to wake up. It’s cause to pay attention because whenever the earth begins to shake there is a battle to behold.

Though sin and injustices appear to be our ruin I still believe God is at work, doing something big in the hearts of men who will pause long enough to seek His heart, His plan for all peoples living in this great nation.

This post is a long time coming. I’ve been praying, reading a lot and really just trying to “consider” how the Lord wants to use His people in this battle.

Today’s message is simple;

we must be willing to cross the bridge.

 

bridgework

Jesus did it. Consider the story of the woman at the well {John 4}. He busted through cultural barriers to demonstrate love and truth, regardless of the social awkwardness.

Question to consider: Are people outside your race or culture a part of your routine comings and goings?

If the answer is an undeniable No, then maybe it’s time to consider crossing the great divide.

Two things to consider:

  • The bridge is already built. If you are a believer in Christ, take heart, the heavy foundational work is finished. The bridge to reconciliation was established when God chose to establish peace with sinful man through the sacrificial death of Jesus. Because of this we have been reconciled to God {2 Corinthians 5:17-18}. Jesus is the bridge of peace, love and forgiveness.

“Reconcilers go beyond the point of peaceful coexistence and build bridges by embracing diversity as a lifestyle value…” -David Ireland

  • Start walking. It’s one thing to talk-the-talk and another to walk-the-walk. The journey from one side of the road to another in an attempt to bridge the diversity gap in your life, home or family may feel a bit awkward at first. It’s in those feelings of displacement that our senses become heightened. We see, hear, and feel differently when we leave our comfort zones. Take heart, this is normal.

Ideas to consider: Okay, all right…so you wanna start walking. But wait, how? I mean, what exactly do I do?

  • Initiate a conversation
  • Bake and deliver some cookies
  • Invite to your home for a cookout or to share a meal
  • Make a coffee / hot chocolate date

Even though the bridge is built, maintenance is still required. Of coarse, we can choose not to maintain it…but what are the consequences for doing so? Maintaining cross-racial / cross-cultural relationships is healthy. It’s what keeps the foundation strong. Keep in mind bridge work takes time and we can’t expect everything to always go as planned. But if our hearts and minds are focused on cultivating a love and understanding for all nationalities and races then we will become an eager people to move.

“Until you take ownership of the global problem of racial justice and bridge building, you will not be motivated to leave your comfort zone…When we break through barriers, whether cultural or racial, it will help others do the same. This will ultimately lead to global change.” – David Ireland

The literal exchange I shared last week with a construction man working on the bridge was a simple demonstration of taking the first step. If your heart is being nudged, I pray you’d have courage and love in the name of Jesus with total abandon.

Looking to dive deeper? I’d recommend reading the book THE SKIN YOU LIVE IN: BUILDING FRIENDSHIPS ACROSS CULTURAL LINES by: David Ireland.

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