Radical Relationships

Radical Relationships

Author: Pastor Chad Johnson
July 01, 2020

Jesus is radical in relationship - revolutionary in overturning systems of injustice - and reckless in grace.  

This last weekend my family participated in the Timoun Trot for the Haitian Timoun Foundation.  The funds are helping to raise support for children and families in Haiti.   #blacklivesmatter.  You wanna talk systemic injustice take some time and dive deep into the history of Haiti.  

Check out the HTF link on my Facebook page if you would like to support and learn more.

Now is the time and this is the place, to hear God’s word and feed on God’s grace.  That means getting after injustice and justice and experiencing the wounds that Jesus himself experienced.  There is no other way.  To not speak and to not lead with the issues our world is facing is to render the church meaningless in this world. 

Here is an important reminder of what we deal with in living into God’s vision for us at Grace: a radically inclusive multicultural community who serve and leader together with the love of Jesus. 

Pew Research Center conducted a survey before the death of George Floyd and ensuing protests. According to the survey, 62 percent of Black adults say it’s important for houses of worship to address “political topics such as immigration and race relations.” Twenty-three percent of Black respondents said covering these topics is essential. By contrast, 36 percent of white American say this is important and 8 percent say it’s essential. Another 42 percent of white Americans say these themes should not be discussed in sermons.

My only response, Wow, just wow!  Being a church in an almost entirely white denomination would make these numbers even worse.  

Our upcoming fall series entitled CommUNITY: Unified in Purpose is going to be a time of walking through many social justice conversations.  Twelve distinct weeks of time and intentionality in order to go deeper in faith and life.  Our last many weeks of sermons have done the same.  I will do more of this on July 12th.  Our book discussions this summer are directed at this.  So we work - we form - we take steps - we do more work - and we keep going.  

Racism is inherent in absolutely everything.  

Racism is sin.

Racism needs dismantling which means deconstructing what so many have built their entire lives around.  
Rebuilding new.

Every human is flawed.
Every organization is flawed.
Every country is flawed.

Reconciliation is required.

As a father of two black daughters, I am always learning.  There is no learned in this house.  Life-long learning is the map.  I am also incredibly embarrassed and ashamed by all I don’t know.  My heart is grieved by the injustices.  

Black lives matter is not an organization in our house.  It is a way of life that produces life …for our black daughters ... for all of us.  #blacklivesmatter   

Some in the church get angry when hearing or seeing signs of black lives matter.  If black lives matter does not matter at Grace - then Grace has missed the mark in being church in the world.  

Look at my daughters and son - my family - us as parents - and tell us that black lives do not matter. Trivialize us by saying all lives matter.  Tell us that systemic racism will not impact every area of our lives.  Tell us that America and the church has nothing to lament of or hope for.  Tell us out of your privilege that all is good and all should just march along in our social clubs of comfortability.  To do all of this is to continue to heap on generational hate and disdain just like the world has been known to do.  And remember today, if LGBTQIA+ lives do not matter at Grace then Grace has missed the mark in being the church in the world.  And remember the Duwamish Indians and the lands now in which our churches and homes are built and remember how the church has missed the mark in talking honestly on restorative justice.  And remember today, for the Lutheran church, just 50 years of women ordained in ministry.  Freedom and equality for some has never been about freedom and equality for all.  We need to name it - claim it - live it - Jesus calls us forward - and God forgive us for all of the things we have done and left undone.  

When we struggle with all of this, the issue was never really with the church.  The issue is with Jesus. Jesus is radical in relationship - revolutionary in overturning systems of injustice - and reckless in grace.  I would love for all at Grace to get to know that Jesus and say yes to really following him.  

A question for you to think on is this: Are there systems in place at Grace that are shaped by racist tendencies?  How about in your personal life?  Your family system?  Your place of work?  What do we need to work on dismantling so that we can mantle - really build up the kin-dom of God that Jesus has always hoped for?


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