“God is diverse-He made no mistake when He made different ethnicities, different colors and different cultures.” – Nicole C. Mullen

Dove Award-winning singer-songwriter Nicole C. Mullen(http://nicolecmullen.com)-a generous voice in the conversation about race and a positive proponent of diversity-related dialogue-joins hosts Mark Lowry and Andrew Greer for the most poignant Dinner Conversations table talk to date.


Mark: Today’s guest I had never met until today. Her name is Nicole C. Mullen and what a sweetheart she is. And you know her song. “I know my redeemer lives.” She wrote that. Anyway, she’s our guest today, and she had a discussion with us about racial relationships and tensions in the culture and inside the Church.

Andrew: Yeah, I think sometimes we think that race division is just a cultural issue, but we know that that also happens inside of the Church. And so what we were asking Nicole C. and what we were talking about is what can we do to meet that issue head-on. How can we as disciples of Christ be unifiers in our culture, in our churches on race issues. And I think you’re especially interested because you go to a church…

Mark: My church, Grace Church, Humble, Texas, it was started by a white family and now it’s grown to I’m the minority. I go in there and there’s no one in there that looks like me hardly, but we worship together because, you know, our blood is all red.

Andrew: That’s right. We’re learning that relationship, getting to know one another, is the core experience that helps us to actually unify and see each other not as different but as alike.

Mark: There’s one seat left at the table, and it’s yours. Let’s join the conversation.

Nicole C. Mullen – Racism in the Church

Andrew: I would say in our culture that — let me maybe say American culture but I think world culture — community is not… We are not interacting with each other. Do you feel that and do you feel the tension…?

Mark: Who?

Andrew: Just culture, in general. People, humanity is not communing with each other. There’s extreme tension…

Mark: Well, they’re yelling at each other. There’s a lot of heat, but there’s very little light, you know. It’s all fire.

Andrew: There’s no conversation, right?

Mark: Yeah, it’s just yelling at each other.

Nicole C.: Monologues.

Andrew: Why is that?

Nicole C.: I think part of it, honestly, and I am…we’re all creatures of our society in one way or another. I think part of it is we are talking to this, and we get emboldened by saying what we want to say here without really having like one-on-one conversations with people, hearing what they have to say, interacting this way. And then I think because we don’t know each other, we’re afraid of each other, you know, and so we began to like fill in the blanks of what we think about each other with our own imaginations, our own stereotypes, instead of saying, “No, let me sit down and really get to know you,” because I’m a lot more likely to take up for and to go the extra mile for someone I love than for somebody that I just fear or have, you know, an outside opinion about.

Mark: So you’re saying to get to know your neighbor?

Nicole C.: Yeah.

Mark: You know, when I first met the Lord… OK, in our church, we were taught to witness to everybody, right? So we’d sit next to people on the plane, and the first thing out of my mouth would be, “If you were to die today, do you know where you’d spend eternity?”

Nicole C.: Yes, yes, yes.

Mark: And now, as I’ve grown up and I’ve gotten to know the Lord better, it’s like the Lord taught me get to know them, find out where they’re coming from before you cram Me down their throats.

“…it’s like the Lord taught me to get to know them, find out where they’re coming from before you cram Me down their throats”

Nicole C.: Earn the right to speak.

Mark: You know, I’m a gentleman, and I would like to be introduced the proper way. Don’t just cram Me down people’s throats. And then, when you let them tell their story, there’ll be a door that’s obviously open.

Nicole C.: Yes, yes.

Andrew: Well, story will trump any… If there’s difference in race, difference in lifestyle, difference in whatever, story is where we relate.

Mark: That’s why Jesus told parables. That’s why there’s People magazine. They’re stories, you know. People love to hear about other people.

Nicole C.: And He told stories at people’s homes, too. You know what I’m saying? He came and He ate. He set the table, you know, or He was at the fish fry. He was there, and it was there that He told stories. He didn’t go and just… I mean, He preached, but He loved on them. He demonstrated who He was by what He did. He got involved in their lives. He came down to where they were at and not just saying, “I’m only gonna preach in the synagogue, and if you don’t come to the synagogue, then you won’t hear Me.” Nope. He went to the parties. You know what I’m saying? He went to where they were. He went to the streets. He went to where they were being condemned. He went to where they were at in order to communicate who He and His Father were.

Andrew: That takes actual time, energy, which translated is love.

Nicole C.: Which is love, yeah. And I think all the time because He could so easily have done like mass prayers to where He said, “Everybody be filled. Everybody be healed. Everybody be made whole,” and then He could have been on His way in like two seconds flat. But according to scriptures, He took time and He talked to people individually.

Dr. Chris Williamson | Strong Tower Bible Church

Andrew: What is my role and responsibility as a white male in 2018 who also believes that everyone was created equal because God has created us like Him?

Dr. Chris Williamson: I think the typical American way is to ask, “What can I do?” And sometimes that is the right question to ask because we should do something. Faith without works is dead, and if we see our brother or sister hurting — you know, good Samaritan parable — we should help. We should do something. But I think sometimes the question that we should ask: Help me to see? You know the book of Ecclesiastes says, “If you see the poor in a district and they’re being oppressed by someone higher than them…” It’s interesting how Solomon says, “If you see the poor,” because many times, as Mother Teresa would say, we’d rather talk about the poor than have conversations with the poor. We’d rather give someone a sandwich rather than sit down and get to know them and understand why are you homeless to begin with. So I would back it up for many of my white brothers and sisters who may be burdened with, “What do I do?” Maybe step back and say, “Lord, help me to see what my brothers and sisters see. Help me to feel what they feel. Help me to have more compassion, more understanding, because when you see and feel and you are burdened, you don’t have to worry about what to do. The gospel is not just John 3:16 — get me to heaven. The gospel is also Luke 4:18, where Jesus said He was anointed to bind up the brokenhearted and to set the captives free, to give sight to the blind, to proclaim liberty to the oppressed. That is the gospel as much as going to heaven is. But I grew up with such a focus on, hey, pray this prayer and go to heaven but not really dealing with the nasty, here and now of how to love my neighbor who’s different than me, especially one who may be marginalized and poorer. But if we read Jesus properly, I mean, man, His last long parable in Matthew, the sheep and the goats — when you stand before Me in heaven, I’m not gonna ask you your theological position. I’m not gonna ask you your voting record. I’m gonna ask you how did you help the least of these. And when we think about America, who are the least of these historically in America and what are we doing, what have we done, to help the least of these, whether they be in prison, whether they be naked, thirsty, on and on. So if the posture of our Christianity doesn’t lead us towards people who are marginalized…

“…as Mother Teresa would say, we’d rather talk about the poor than have conversations with the poor. We’d rather give someone a sandwich rather than sit down and get to know them and understand why are you homeless to begin with.”

Andrew: Yeah, then are we following Jesus’…

Dr. Chris Williamson: Right.

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Churches Infected with Racial Division

Andrew: Or maybe I’ll say do you feel like this, that our church is also affected and maybe sometimes even infected by the division, especially…

Mark: Are you talking about the racial division?

Andrew: Especially racial division.

Nicole C.: Absolutely, yeah.

Andrew: So how are we the seed of change? How do we reflect something different?

Mark: How do we fix this? How do we mix the races?

Andrew: Is it a fix?

Nicole C.: Absolutely, it is a fix. I grew up in, you know, all black churches, all white schools — grew up in a mixed neighborhood. So from my earliest recollections, my world was mixed. It was diverse. So I’m not speaking from an all-black perspective, you know. Two of my children are biracial. You know what I’m saying? So this has been my life from the beginning. Some of my best friends are Caucasian, some our African-American, some are other ethnicities, so I’m not here saying, you know, they’re wrong, they’re right, you know. But I do think that there needs to be not just dialogue but there needs to be like true respect given back and forth and to be able to — like I said earlier, like Jesus heard their stories — to hear someone else’s story because if I hear your story, now I have to validate the way you feel because your perspective is legitimately different than mine and they’re both real and right, you know. But the way we get together is how do we, you know… We get together on this bridge of like I respect what you’ve said, I believe what you’ve said, and now because I have heard you out, I have a little more empathy for you. Now I want to take up for you. Now I want to say, “OK, then how do I give up a little of what I have to help you over here,” and vice versa. So now we can link arms because we’ve heard each other, we respect each other. And I think what has to happen is that… Do I believe we need to have our churches a lot more, you know, integrated? Absolutely. I think it needs to be represented from the head all the way down, so that’s absolutely, yes. But even more so than that, I think after church is what matters most. So after church, am I willing to go out to lunch with that family that looks totally different than mine? After lunch, am I willing to have them over to my home? Am I willing to go to, you know, their plays for their kids? Whatever it might be, am I willing to…

Mark: Get to know them.

Nicole C.: Absolutely.

Mark: Because it’s hard to hate it when it has a face.

Nicole C.: And when you get to know them. Absolutely. Then they go from being just friends, brothers and sisters…

Mark: Or something you fear.

Nicole C.: They become family.

Andrew: So relationship. We were talking earlier about my cousins, who live here in town. They’ve got two biological boys, Caucasian family, adopted an Ethiopian girl. Just in love. I mean, Lidi’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. But my cousin, who’s her mother, she so respected the culture she came from and wanting to respect that in her life, Lidiyanna’s as she grows up, but then also respecting her as an African-American girl and woman and not being an African-American woman herself, like not knowing how to take care of her hair, her skin, you know, practical things. And so what did she do? She went and asked one of her closest African-American women friends and said, “I don’t know. I want to know. Teach me.” You know, because she’s afraid of being in the grocery store and…

Nicole C.: That’s great because we get funny about that. You probably already know. We’d be like, “Look at her hair.”

Andrew: Yeah, and that’s what she was afraid of.

Nicole C.: She was wise.

Mark: I love that story.

Andrew: But that’s an effort of respect.

Nicole C.: It is. And I’m sure she won favor among the lady that she asked for help from, you know. And even though she’s going after the well-being of her daughter, you know, at the same time, she’s forming a bridge.

Andrew: And she’s understanding things she’s never understood before.

Nicole C.: Yes.

Mark: And you get to discover their food.

Nicole C.: Yes.

Mark: You know, every culture has a whole wonderful world of food.

Nicole C.: Like a jambalaya, gumbo, you know.

Mark: And I am a foodie. I’d love to go eat home cooking from some other culture. My sister’s ex-husband, who I still dearly love — we’re all great friends still; I love him — he befriended these African-American people up in the hills of Virginia. He would talk about them, tell stories about them, and made them sound so wonderful. I said, “Please, take me.” And so we all went up there and they loved on me and I ate chitlins for the first time.

Nicole C.: Sorry.

Mark: Oh, they were horrible.

Nicole C.: They stink.

Mark: It’s the guts of a pig, but I had to try it. I’ll try anything. No, I had to try what they loved. I didn’t care for it, but I did find a lot of things… Like I love chicken livers and stuff like that. Anyway, I don’t know how I got off on that.

Nicole C.: We don’t all eat chicken livers, we don’t all eat chitlins, just so y’all know.

Mark: These people, they had a different take on family, a different take on fun. They were a blast.

Nicole C.: It enriched your life. It enriched you.

Mark: Oh, it enriched my life. Oh yeah.

Andrew: Change did.

Mark: Listen, when I was growing up, I wanted a black friend. I wasn’t around anybody because we went to a private Christian school, and I really think looking back some of that was racially motivated because integration was happening, and I wonder how much of it was to protect us from what they were teaching because I was in Texas in the ‘70s. I don’t know. You can edit this out, but I was full-grown when I heard the Martin Luther King letter from the Birmingham prison. I was full-grown.

Nicole C.: Yeah, because they kept you away from it.

Mark: Well, evidently. I called my parents — it was a book on tape that I was listening to — and I was like stunned. It was the most incredible letter. And I called my parents. “Have you ever heard about this?” “Well, yeah.” I said, “Well, why haven’t I?” I called Bill and Gloria Gaither. “Have you heard about…?” I was just stunned that I had never heard about this and angry because it was not the education I deserved.

Dr. Chris Williamson | Love Bears All Things

Dr. Chris Williamson: You know, when I was growing up, we played hokey-pokey. You know, you put your right foot in, put your right foot out, and all that stuff. And you go through the whole song putting something in and putting something out, and I think we approach reconciliation that way. We may put a foot in it, but we’re gonna pull it right out, especially when it gets tough, when I get uncomfortable, when it gets hard. It happens in churches, whether they’re homogeneous churches or multicultural churches, and people just want to leave. But wow, I think love bears all things. We gotta stick this thing out. And so the world is looking at the Church, and the Church, unfortunately, we’ve lost our witness. We don’t have salt in this area.

Andrew: And why is that? I mean, I know that’s a broad question, but think about in terms of racial unity.

Dr. Chris Williamson: Ha ha. Andrew, my man. The Church’s fingerprints are all over the racial caste system that built America, and the Church OK’d the slave trade. The Church misused the Bible to say that people made in the image of God were truly not made in the image of God, that we were cursed, that our lot in life was to be subjected to be slaves, that it was divine order for us. So when the Church

co-signs a wicked economic system, we can’t get that thing right in America until we go back again and admit our sins. And no, I wasn’t there, but watch this though. Daniel confessed the sins of his forefathers. Nehemiah confessed the sins of his forefathers because those sins had repercussions on where they were in the present. And where we are today, we’re suffering from the repercussions of our ancestors, and if we’re not willing to confess those sins and repent of them and, when proper, make restitution for those sins, we just can’t have an apology and again to shake hands. We need to address systems. We need to make wrong things right. But it takes humility. It takes honesty. If I was an abusive husband and let’s say I beat on my wife for 20 years, man. Then year 21 I have a revelation, and God talks to me and says, “Man, that’s wrong,” and I say to my wife, “You know what, I’m sorry. Things are gonna be different from here on out,” and hopefully she’ll forgive me, but I can’t get upset with her if I walk in the room a week later and she’s still jumpy and she doesn’t trust me because the time in which I abused her has forged something in her psyche that’s off. She’s still afraid. And my words are one thing, my actions are something else, and it takes time and consistency to prove that I’m sorry.

“The Church’s fingerprints are all over the racial caste system that built America”

Andrew: Has the evangelical Church in the Western world, the American evangelical Church, disappointed you?

Dr. Chris Williamson: Yes. Absolutely. I can’t remember the person who said it. It may have been Mahatma Gandhi, but you know, follow Jesus, not His followers, something to that degree — that I believe in Jesus, I don’t necessarily believe in His followers. Oh, it’s definitely a disappointment, for sure. I was educated in a white evangelical institution, and the lack of attention, sensitivity towards issues that are important to me and my community, sometimes it would make me wonder is my presence here only for entertainment, to make the football team better? Reconciliation without a redistribution of power is nothing more than colonialism. The essence of the gospel is to empower the powerless. The Bible says that Jesus was rich, yet He made Himself poor so that we, through His poverty, might become rich. Jesus emptied Himself, without ceasing to be God, to save people from their sin. If we’re not emptying ourselves, if we’re not lifting other people up, if we’re not giving power that we have to other people, I dare to say it’s not the gospel.

Andrew: Spiritually speaking, what do you personally do with that disappointment? How do you hash that out with God?

Dr. Chris Williamson: You just lament. And you stay there until the Lord lifts you up. But it’s OK to pour out your heart to God and tell Him how much you’re hurting. But yet, I serve a God who understood sorrow and was acquainted with grief. The Bible says He was a Man of Sorrows, so with the disappointment, sometimes… You know, historically for the black Church, we would pour out our heart at the altar. We would weep before God. We would cry. We would fast. You know, you see that again with Daniel, Nehemiah, so again, before we try to fix it — oh God, hear my cry, oh God.

Andrew: But it begins with humility.

Dr. Chris Williamson: Oh.

Andrew: Everything we’re talking about points back to if we will humble…

Dr. Chris Williamson: Dude, remember is it Luke 18? They’re praying in the temple — Pharisee and the tax collector. Tax collector can’t even lift his head up. What’s the Pharisee doing? “I’m glad I’m not like other people. I don’t do this. And I tithe.” And Jesus said, “I tell you what. That humble guy went home justified, but that religious man… We’ll say Micah — we need to walk with Him humbly. Oh brother.

Diversity from the Creator

Andrew: So if we are as diverse as we are, you look around the world and we’re as diverse as we are, hopefully, if we’re created in the image of God, what do you think that says about God.

Nicole C.: It says that God is diverse. It says that God, matter of fact, He made no mistakes when He made different ethnicities, different colors, different cultures. It was intentional. You know, this is a reflection of Him, so for us to think that our own culture is the whole totality of who God is is really just arrogant and misguided for any of us. But to know that He is diverse, therefore He created diversity. He has that inside himself — Father, Son, Holy Spirit — as we were talking about earlier. And so He didn’t make one color flower and nothing else is…

“God made no mistakes when He made different ethnicities, different colors, different cultures. It was intentional.”

Mark: Wouldn’t that be boring?

Nicole C.: Wouldn’t it? He didn’t just make everything in grayscale. He gave us the colors and the flavors of life to enjoy, and I think life is richer and more full when we put those things together, when we accept each other and say, “You know what, let me take a piece of your culture. Let me learn about that. Let me learn about this. Let me learn about that,” especially those of us who claim to be a part of the body of Christ, especially. And I think we have an extra charge to be the ones who model this to the world. Otherwise, we’re taking cues from a society that really doesn’t know how to do it right, when we have the blueprint.

Andrew: We’ve got the Spirit guiding us, right?

Nicole C.: We have John 15 — “Make them one even as we’re one.” He wants us to love each other because that’s the way we’re going to show that we’re followers of Him, not by how well we preach, not by how well we sing, not by how well we travel around the world telling people about Him, but by the way we love.

Andrew: You say learn a little bit about this culture and learn a bit about this and take a little bit of this and that, and isn’t that then also saying discover a little bit more about God, discover a little bit more about God, discover a little bit more about God.

Nicole C.: And His creation.

Mark: Very good. I’m being serious. That is good.

Nicole C.: I’ve learned the richest lessons from other people and other places and other cultures.

Mark: Yeah, same with denominations. I was raised Baptist, right. Independent Baptist, which is, you know, sometimes we’re independent of God it seems.

Nicole C.: We real independent.

Mark: But we love Jesus. But we were Independent Baptists, so when I joined the Gaithers, it opened my life that there are Presbyterians who are madly in love with Jesus and there are Pentecostals who can do more than shout. They love Jesus.

Nicole C.: Thank you.

Mark: And there are Methodists who love Jesus. I used to get Jerry Falwell’s Christmas card and Tony Campolo’s Christmas card. They used to argue with each other on CNN, and they both loved Jesus, and I know both of them. And I put them side-by-side on my refrigerator, and I think, OK, here are two men that I know love the Lord, but they came to diabolically opposed political conclusions. Which tells me stay out of politics.

Nicole C.: But we need to be there or change your heart.

Mark: No, we need to be there. I believe we should vote.

Andrew: We serve. In our service, that’s our service to our neighbors, right? But it is saying, “What’s the main thing?” And politics is not the main thing, and our opinions and preferences are not the main thing. That’s what you’re talking about with worship.

Nicole C.: Yes, absolutely.

Andrew: Where all our preferences and our comfort lies is not necessarily the heartbeat of who we are, I think, because the heartbeat of who we are is in reflecting who God is and that takes a great deal of surrender.

Nicole C.: And it’s sometimes it’s uncomfortable.

Nicole C. Mullen singing “One”

You and me may not always see identically
And there’s some things where we’re simply gonna disagree
A tune of many notes can still have harmony, a symphony
‘Cause I need you and brother, you need me 

And they’ll know we are one
By the way we love, by the way we love
And they’ll know we are one
By the way we love, by the way we love

Take my hand and walk a mile with and you will see
Together we can conquer anything in unity
Through the blood of Christ
He turns diversity to family
‘Cause I need you and sister, you need me

And they’ll know we are one
By the way we love, by the way we love
And they’ll know we are one
By the way we love, by the way we love

There is just one Spirit
One hope, one body
We believe, believe
There is on baptism
One faith and Lord of all
We believe, we believe

And they’ll know we are one
By the way we love, by the way we love
And they’ll know we are one
By the way we love, by the way we love

And they’ll know we are one
By the way we love, by the way we love
And they’ll know we are one
By the way we love, by the way we love

By the way we love, by the way we love
By the way we love, by the way we love

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How to Process the Fear from Racisim

Andrew: Just think about it. I mean, it’s natural that I would relate to God potentially as a white guy as a child. I grew up in a predominantly Caucasian and Hispanic community, so I would see Him in some of those shades, and just in my imagination and mind, if I’m putting human skin on God.

Nicole C.: Or paintings or whatever.

Andrew: Yeah. Of course all the blue eyes. You know, blue-eyed, brown hair Jesus. And that’s naturally what I relate to, but as my worldview expands, as my perspectives expand, as my relationships expand, as my experiences expand, I can no longer just relate to the God of my childhood in the sense of how I’m picturing Him.

Nicole C.: And I think the more we get into the Word, we get a chance to see the real Him too. Therefore, it expands our worldview, you know. It expands who I love. Let me see who He loves. He went to the Samaritan, the mixed breed back then, according to what they would say, you know, and He spoke to her.

Mark: He wasn’t even supposed to put His feet on the land.

Nicole C.: And still He did.

Mark: He walked right up.

Nicole C.: Exactly.

Mark: Middle of the day.

Nicole C.: So He broke a lot of these like social, you know, whatever.

Mark: He’ll break the law to get you home.

Nicole C.: He sure will. If He did it, then why aren’t we going across those lines, saying, “I’m still going to love you. I’m still gonna be your friend. I’m still going to, you know, do what I can to serve you.”

Mark: Well, you gave a good example about go to church, find a family that doesn’t look like you, and ask them… How would you feel? How would you do it so you don’t make them feel like you’re being a project?

Nicole C.: I think maybe, first, if you just even with an introduction — “Hey, I’m so-and-so,” you know, and “Hey, really enjoyed having you guys here.” Then maybe the next Sunday you’re like, you know, “Hey, I would love to maybe sometimes get together. Maybe we can go do lunch sometimes. What do you like to do?”

Mark: Overtime. Warm up to it.

Nicole C.: Yeah. Maybe ask a little bit.

Andrew: And even stating your intention when it’s an appropriate time.

Nicole C.: Absolutely.

Andrew: Saying, “I would actually love to get to know you and your family. I would love to get to know… I see this. I’ve observed this.”

Nicole: Absolutely. And I wanna be a part of the solution. Being upfront about it is fantastic.

Andrew: Because we don’t do that, do we?

Nicole C.: No, because sometimes we want to skirt around it.

Mark: So what if I say, “Hey, listen. There’s racial tension everywhere. Can we get to know each other?” Is that what you’re saying?

Nicole C.: Yeah, but not like that.

Andrew: But with earned trust because otherwise, you know what I think we do? I think we demonstrate otherwise because if we can’t be straightforward with each other in our interactions individually, we then have demonstrations that are hugely divided. Someone asked me recently, “What do you think about demonstrations in general?” I said, “Why don’t we start demonstrating to each other.”

Mark: OK, what does that mean?

Andrew: That means why don’t I demonstrate… Like either it could be…

Nicole C.: Mutual respect right here.

Andrew: Yes, even if there’s a conflict or I don’t understand something. Or can you explain this to me? Or can I be heard on this? And so you’re demonstrating love.

Nicole C.: I think everybody has a right to publicly protest what they want as well.

Andrew: Sure, sure. Not gonna control that.

Nicole C.: So we’re agreed on that. However, but I do fully agree with what you just said because, for me, I’ve had people ask me, like Caucasian people say, “OK, well, I’m really stuck on this issue. Can we talk about it? I’m not trying to be offensive, but can I ask you some questions?” I welcome it 100 percent, 200 percent. I love the conversation, never been offended by it, and so I’m like please, if there are things you don’t know, then let me be your tour guide. Let me show you another perspective. I get a chance to hear yours. You get a chance to hear mine. And I’m not trying to speak for all African-Americans, but there’s some things that I do know that are common about the way we think about certain things or the way we may perceive the reception of public opinion. So even like you’ve got the Black Lives Matter and you’ve got this over here, to me there’s different issues being talked about. Like the Black Lives Matter, I haven’t marched with them. However, I will say it started from people saying, “No, we want to be heard to say that our lives matter as well.” Not matters more than, but it matters too. And so with that, of course, you’re always going to have people that are gonna hijack different things to make it a concept that it was not. So you have that. However, at the core, you can’t say everything about it shouldn’t be and they have no right because they’re just a bunch of thugs. No, a lot of them are politicians, a lot of them are doctors, lawyers, pastors, and they’re marching peacefully like in the days of Dr. King because they’re saying our sons and our daughters have the right to make it home. I’ve taught my sons, you know, when you get pulled over, you go the extra mile. You show your hands. When they tell you to do something, you do it. They tell you to get out of the car, you get out of the car. A lot of times that works, but sometimes even all of that doesn’t bring your child home. We’ve seen that, so as an African-American mom, there are some real issues that the African-American community are saying, “I know y’all keep saying we’re just crying racism, but we’re saying for real. There really are problems.” But if you didn’t grow up with it… I validate you all because you said, “I don’t see it. That’s not my world.” And so yeah, you’re valid in that, but we’re saying, “But can you look at ours and give us validity and say, ‘There’s something different about this, so how can I help. Not how can I put more fuel on the fire, but how can I actually be a part of the solution and demonstrate right here the mutual respect.’” Because when we respect each other, then like I said before, we go beyond just feeling like friends. We become family, and I’m gonna fight for my family. I’m gonna take up for my family. I’m gonna care for them. I’m gonna make sure that they’re not abused.

Mark: And especially if you’re Christian. Christians are as bad at this as the world, aren’t they?

Andrew: Yeah, sometimes.

Nicole C.: Because it’s fear. Sometimes we’re just afraid of each other. On the white side, sometimes you’re afraid of the black people, and some of the blacks are afraid of the whites.

Mark: So fear’s the bottom line.

Nicole C.: Fear is the bottom line. And where there’s fear, you have all this other like malady that comes from it because we don’t know, you know. We’re assuming. And I think if we got to know each other, we would see that we’re a lot more alike than we are different, we have a lot more in common than uncommon, and there can be love between us and mutual respect.

Dr. Chris Williamson: But you know, again, the Bible, Psalm 133 — how good and how pleasant it is when brothers can dwell together, not just visit. How can we intentionally intersect our lives? And it’s gonna be work on everyone’s part because…

Andrew: And there’s gonna be discomfort, right?

Dr. Chris Williamson: Yes, there’s gonna be discomfort because I like hanging with who I like to hang with. But again, we follow this Middle Eastern Jewish man who had a way of destroying comfort zones, and if we’re really gonna follow Him, then that means at His table, as He told the Jews, there are people coming from north, south, east, and west to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And what He was saying, it was paramount. He was blowing up their worldview where Jewish people pretty much, not only were they a monotheistic people and a people with a rigid moral code, but they kept to themselves ethnically and they looked down on other people because they considered them not clean because they weren’t Jewish. And here comes Jesus saying, “They’re gonna sit down at the table with our patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” that that is the kingdom of God. But too often our sociology has greater power than our theology, and we’ve got to flip that around. But I’ll add a caveat to that. Some of us are so theological that we’re not practical. We know the right answers.

Andrew: So then we’re not seeing though? The practical is the not seeing, right?

Dr. Chris Williamson: Not seeing it. I heard John Perkins say when God decided to change the world, He started a multiracial church in Acts chapter 2. So man, there’s something when the world can see people loving each other who typically don’t love each other, where they have a bad history. But they can get over the history. They can confess those sins and move on. They can forgive each other. That’s power.

Prejudice, Regardless of what Race and Ethnicity

Andrew: I have a question because I’ve been thinking through this question in my own mind. Even with, you know, the strides that have been made that we continue to struggle, we know that slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation, did not end slavery in the world, and it certainly did not…

Mark: Emancipation did what?

Andrew: Did not end slavery in the world.

Mark: Right, correct.

Andrew: And we know that tens of millions of people are enslaved in different ways, from different backgrounds, different races. In the world perspective, slavery is still a stronghold, still an issue. What is it that is in humanity that is compelling us to enslave each other?

Mark: Money.

Nicole C.: The pride of life. Yeah, money.

Mark: They’re making money off those kids, right?

Andrew: But where did I separate money and treatment of a human being?

Mark: Well, they’re freaks. I mean, anybody who would sell another human being is a complete reprobate.

Andrew: But also a person created in the image of God.

Nicole C.: I think it goes back to, and I’m gonna quit trying to sound like… Y’all think I’m trying to be super religious, but I’m not.

Andrew: Gosh, no.

Nicole C.: But you know, it goes back to the pride of life. I want to feel better than someone else, so you have prejudice. Regardless of what race and what ethnicity, it’s I have to feel better than you; therefore, have to put you down, degrade you. And I know we have it all over the world, and I think part of the tension — I’m gonna come back to this and then I’m gonna get off of it — but even in the African-American community, like I was never a slave. We can agree on that. However, I’m a descendant of slaves, and there’s still some things I think in our society that have been perpetuated, the mentality of it has been perpetuated, even though some of the exterior has changed a little bit. Underneath, you still have a system that has benefited off of that mentality or the working of slavery, and then before you know it, you have families that have been separated back then. Then you had things that happened even after slavery was abolished that there are systems that are still in place that perpetuate dividing the family. Dads are now incarcerated at a higher rate in African-Americans than it is in the white community for the same crimes. That’s a fact. So now you have sons and daughters without a father, and now they’re trying to figure it out, but dad has been incarcerated. All black dads are not incarcerated. There’s some great ones. Mine was not. I know some great African-American men that are very upstanding, so most of us are upstanding. So now you have families that are torn apart, and you have kids growing up without them. Now you have another generation. Now you have another generation. Now you have another generation. And we’re looking, why are they out in the street picketing? Why are they out in the street rioting? Because dad’s not there. Not just because dad was bad but because there are still systems in place that stem back to the slavery mentality, not just for blacks but in the larger community as well, to where it has perpetuated the same evil. And that has been something that has been perpetuated not just from the states all over the world but you have human nature. And because you can’t legislate human nature, therefore, you do have these things and only Christ can come to redeem that. If He doesn’t redeem it, it can’t be changed. You can’t make laws that are really gonna change the way I think about you. I can still go home and secretly hate you, even though the law says I can’t do it publicly.

Andrew: You can’t legislate a heart, right?

Nicole C.: No, but Christ can come and rewrite it and change it, so only really redemption through Christ can really fix the problem. So we who have been redeemed, that’s why we’re the answer to it. So we, the church, if we don’t take our place as the redeemed of the Lord, then our society won’t be fixed. There’s no other remedy outside of Him.

Andrew: In any area of discord or disease.

Nicole C.: In any area, yeah. He is the remedy, and He’s given it to us. He’s put it in us to live it out to affect the world.

Andrew: You talk about teaching your children, and your sons especially, like what to do in a situation getting pulled over, and I think about something I would never have to think about potentially with my children. Well, maybe. I haven’t married yet. But I am so grieved by that, the fact that it would have to be different, that I would almost want to say I wish it happened to me so I could understand it or so at least… Either let’s all be treated well or let’s all be treated… I think we’ll just go against the devil, you know.

Nicole C.: I think when you have an opportunity to do good, do it. When you have the opportunity to stand up for what’s right, don’t back down. Stand up.

Andrew: I don’t think everyone’s a mystery. I don’t think everyone’s different just because we look or have different traditions.

Mark: Well, you’re blessed.

Andrew: Well, that’s not putting me on some thing.

Mark: I mean, your parents must have done something right.

Nicole C.: Honestly, every group has their thing though too, so everybody has a measure of prejudice in them that they have to deal with. It’s not just a white against black or black against white. Everybody has a measure of that, and it’s our own pride. It’s how we feel better about ourselves, the root, so we have to surrender that individually to the Lord too and then say, “What can I do and how can I show love for my neighbor, regardless of their color, ethnicity, their culture?” Those of us who’ve been redeemed, we’re called to go out and to show that redemption in how we love each other, and sometimes that each other doesn’t look like us, doesn’t sound like us, doesn’t dress like us, doesn’t believe like us.

Mark: Oh, now you’re meddling.

Nicole C.: But we’re still called to love.

Andrew: Yeah, but talking about prejudices.

Nicole C.: We’re still called to love. We’re still called to love.

Mark: Love without an agenda is tough.

Nicole C.: We’re just called to love. We don’t have a heaven or hell to put anybody in. We water, we plant; He gives the increase. If He doesn’t give the increase, it wasn’t in the hat. We still are called to water and plant.

Andrew: And He’s the judge as in He’s like the justice bringer. Our idea of judgment, which is why we were so afraid of God’s judgment, no, justice is a judge and justice makes things right, makes things whole.

Nicole C.: And He’s also merciful.

Andrew: Yes, merciful and mighty.

Mark: Amen.

Nicole C.: That’s good.

Mark: Well, I did 23andMe.com and found out that I am 12 percent Jewish, and I believe that’s the Jesus in me. And I am .05 percent African-American, I’m sad to say. Oh, and I am 65 percent Neanderthal. Seriously, there’s a Neanderthal thing in there. They say it’s somewhere between monkey and human.

Mark: To learn more about Dinner Conversations, go to dinner-conversations.com.

Andrew: And don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel. That’ll allow you to get a new episode every week. Like us or don’t like us, and leave a comment, good or constructively criticism.

Mark: And if it’s really, really, really mean criticism, we can delete you.

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