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A letter to confederate-flag-loving, white, nonracist Christians

24 Jun
A letter to confederate-flag-loving, white, nonracist Christians

A letter to confederate-flag-loving, white, non-racist Christians:

This past week I took my dog to the vet for the first time. It was a traumatic event for both me and for my dog. We were doing fine until it came time for her vaccines. She was taken to another room and surrounded by people she did not know who held her down while attempting to jab her with multiple needles. She flipped out, and I saw a side of her I had never seen. Our always kind, loving pet (the one that our kids jump on and wrestle with daily) turned aggressive and bit the hand of one of the veterinary assistants.

Unfortunately, the vet’s office is not the only place I saw “biting back” this week.

Now let me be clear, I am not about to get into the history of the confederate flag or to discuss the debate of heritage or hate. The truth is that my degrees are in theology and I simply don’t know enough about those things to speak to them. Anyway, plenty has already been written about all of that, and I suspect it is easy enough for you to search for and find whatever narration of history you prefer.

Instead, lets talk about the biting back.

While I don’t know much about the confederate flag, I do know four things with complete certainty: 1) Racism is still present today, 2) people are afraid and hurting because of it, therefore 3) it is something that God cares deeply about, and so 4) if God cares deeply about it then we should too.

Now, I know there are some of you who are reading this and who are already growling and showing me your teeth. I know there are some of you who already want to talk about reverse-racism and ways in which you feel like you have been held back because of your pale skin color.

I get it. I really do. You are tired of people analyzing and magnifying the possibility of racist intent. You don’t think it is fair that in order to try to end racism in this country we have to make policies and put in place rules that seem unbalanced and can favor minorities. You feel some of your power slipping away each and every day. I get it.

But here is the thing… our Christian Story reminds us that the world is made new through sacrifice and that following Jesus into a new and better world often means lowering ourselves, as Christ did, that we might lift others up.

Yes, you have been inconvenienced by others people’s desire to do all they can to destroy racism, but that is not the same as living in fear, being unable to do things that others take for granted. It is not the same thing as only being able to travel on major highways throughout the South because you are too afraid to stop for gas at rural gas stations simply because of the color of your skin.

We pray the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, but we forget that the one who first prayed it is also the one who emptied himself, became human, and suffered for us to make it happen. “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” He is the one who still calls to his disciples, “Follow Me.”

Somehow we have forgotten that there is a cost to following Jesus. That if we are to be a disciple of Jesus then there is a lot we must give up – yes, even things we like. We have been renewed to live for Christ, and can no longer live simply for ourselves.

This means that we have been called to give up our own history, our own present, and even our own future in order to allow God to help make us, and our world, better for all people and all of creation.

There will be no confederate flags in God’s Kingdom. I am certain of that. So what if you lived into your prayers for a world that would reflect God’s Kingdom by sacrificing a flag you love and, for the sake of a person in rural NC who doesn’t know where he can safely stop for gas, replace it with a symbol of peace that clearly says, “all people are welcome here.” Instead of holding so tightly to our own history, especially one that so clearly scares a significant population of people, what if we followed Jesus into a future that is open for all people.

I know that it is hard not to bite back when you feel surrounded and threatened, but the hands we bite may be God’s own hands helping to cure our world from the diseases that are still a threat to us today.

So if you are a confederate-flag-loving, white, non-racist Christian who knows that there is a cost to discipleship, I want to challenge you with a difficult task. Consider making a special offering to the Lord this Sunday. When the offering plate is passed around at your local church, consider giving more than just your money. Bring with you that flag you love, and as an offering of peace and reconciliation and love for all God’s people, I challenge you to place it in the plate. Trade it in for a hope in a future where no one will have to live life in fear, where we can all live together on earth, just as it is in heaven.

In Christ,

Rev. Kevin C. Miller

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7 Comments

Posted by on June 24, 2015 in Posts

 

7 responses to “A letter to confederate-flag-loving, white, nonracist Christians

  1. Tonja

    June 25, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    “It is not the same thing as only being able to travel on major highways throughout the South because you are too afraid to stop for gas at rural gas stations simply because of the color of your skin.” It is important to remember that this is not exclusively a south thing. Every city has areas that white, Hispanic, even Asian people are discouraged from too because of violence against them. Atlanta, St Louis, Oklahoma City, Virginia Beach, Phoenix, ALBQ, Denver and I could go on….because I have traveled them and experienced it as a white disabled woman from rural NC too. Peace is good, however, both sides have to acknowledge behavior and adopt Christ like attitudes.

     
    • Will

      June 25, 2015 at 6:57 pm

      I think you missed his point entirely. In God’s eyes and in the kingdom of heaven, there are no “sides”. God bless you.

       
  2. Mike Stange

    June 27, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    We of course should always aspire to follow the Lord’s will. We also, as Americans, have a duty to defend freedom of speech. The PC world is rapidly creating an environment where only approved speech is tolerated. This non-racist Christian has recently seen an entire region of the country shamed into denying their rights in order to appease a vocal minority that attacks freedom of expression. This during the same week that those who fly the “rainbow” flag, a symbol originally used by God, now stolen by the homosexual movement, have been celebrating. Will there be no flags in heaven? I imagine so. But in this world, where the deceiver is active, we sometimes need to push back. When we push back, it is possible that some may misunderstand us, unfortunately that is the price of freedom. I believe Jesus Himself was more concerned for truth than whether he ruffled any feathers.

     
  3. Denisa Dellinger

    June 27, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    Dear Rev Kev, I am a North Carolina mountain girl from up the mountain in Avery county. I am not only southern but from the mountains. We are real clannish. We do not like change. Several of my ancestors fought and died during that war and No one owned a slave in Crossnore or anywhere else in my home. The flag is very important to us, especially since we lost. Afterwards the north really “stuck it to us”. If I lived back then, I would have been an abolitionist. We hold on as a matter of pride in who we are as a people, not a racist people who owned slavery or approved of it. Just as recently as Monday, I was listening to the radio and about Nikki Haley calling for the flag to come down from the state house. My knee jerk reaction was ‘just you try to take down the Confederate flag’! But God rose up inside of me and said, Yes, it is time to take down the flag, if it will be a step towards ending racism and bad feelings. It was not easy for me to admit that it needs to come down and we need to let it go. Then came the call for everything southern and civil war to come down, statues and monuments, recall of Gone with the Wind, removing the confederate flag from anywhere that would sell it. They wanted to eviscerate us, I felt, so although I agree with taking the flags down from the state houses, I cannot handle destroying history and defaming the soldiers that fought and died in that war. I get it! But it is too much for me to handle. It is making me want to own a confederate flag and I have never desired one before in my life. It may not be what you are asking, but this mountain girl is not only growling but is snarling and ready to bite. Just my feelings and God will help me the rest of the way.

     
    • Rev. Kevin C. Miller

      June 27, 2015 at 8:03 pm

      Dear Denisa,

      Your response is beautiful. It is clear your struggle is real. More than that, it is clear that you are attuned to God’s Spirit at work within you. As you eloquently described, there are many loud voices around this issue that seem to be yelling instead of caring. Please don’t ever allow another’s actions to change what God’s Spirit is calling you to do for God’s Kingdom OR to change who God is calling you to be, in Christ. So I simply want to encourage you to keep walking with Jesus towards God’s Kingdom, continuing to listen to the One who “rose up” within you. I am certain you are correct, God will help you the rest of the way. Peace on the journey!

      In Christ,

      ~rev-kev

       
    • Anna Edwards

      June 28, 2015 at 5:10 am

      Beautiful message. I feel this way also, however, my family on both sides fought for the South, with an occasional man fighting for the North. Take the flags down! I am fine with it! Do not destroy the monuments and pieces of the history of our country as if it never happened! We need to remember this War so that we do not repeat it!!

       
  4. Roger Baker

    August 11, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    Dear Rev. Kev,

    You are on the right track. My problem is understanding removing the American flag as well. This is extending the logic of your statement. I am a retired vet but now I will no longer the flag as my God. Difficult because I am also disabled and have a big rack of military ribbons and a wheelchair. I have no answers but I believe God is enabling me to reply to Him through my care and prayers for others. I am retired but I can still pray, and so I do… I think you’ve hit the right note, but that is a high mountain to scale. It is hard to pray for a military enemy trying to kill your companions.

    Roger

     

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