Drew G. I. Hart:
White American Christians in our society must do something seemingly absurd and unnatural, yet very Christian in orientation: they must move decisively toward a counterintuitive solidarity with those on the margins. They must allow the eyes of the violated of the land to lead and guide them, seeking to have renewed minds no longer conformed to the patterns of the our world.
Sandra Maria Van Opstal:
Solidairty means we identify with another’s community in the practices of lament and joy; we join in empathetic grieving and rejoicing. This is not a new practice or idea; the Scriptures clearly call us to solidarity.
Solidarity means letting oneself be affected by the suffering of other human beings, sharing their pain and tragedy.
Solidarity isn’t a word I’ve often heard in white Christian contexts. In these spaces it’s common to think about material and spiritual need as something that can be fixed, needs that can be met. We have been formed to think of ourselves as having solutions and resources to someone else’s deficiency. At times our missionary efforts are little more than short-term attempts to meet those needs before returning to our regular lives.
Solidarity though, as the authors above each point out, is something very different. It makes demands of us while calling us from charity to costly presence.
Of course, as Christians this ought to be intuitive: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Rom. 12:15) It’s a basic part of our faith that we are bound together as a new family through the blood of Jesus. No matter how frayed the ties to our biological families, in Christ we have been adopted into a familial inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade. (1 Pet. 1:4)
But Hart is sadly correct when he writes that the call to cross-racial solidarity is absurd and unnatural to many white Christians. The reason for this is disturbingly simple: we do not see Christians of color as the family with whom we live in sacrificial solidarity. In the same way that segregation has reduced those whom we see as neighbors to those who look like us, so has race warped our understanding of the body of Christ to which we belong.
It’s a difficult thing to wake up to how I’ve missed the opportunity to experience the diverse family of God. But the biblical vision of solidarity also offers a hopeful way forward because any Christian person, in any context, can live in solidarity. Unlike the chorus of people who claim that they’d pursue racial reconciliation if only their neighborhood/town/church was more diverse, solidarity invites each of us to lay down our lives for each other right now.
Now, I happen to believe that prioritizing solidarity with the entire body of Christ will inevitably lead to greater proximity with the individual members of the body whom I’d have otherwise never known. But proximity to racial and ethnic diversity isn’t required to, as Sobrino writes, allow ourselves to be moved by another’s suffering.
There may be good some reasons that a white church cannot quickly become more racially diverse. But there are no similar reasons when it comes to pursuing solidarity.
I’ve heard some great feedback about my conversation with Rev. Shaun Marshall last week. You can watch it here if you missed it.
On Thursday I get to speak with Latasha Morrison, the founder of Be the Bridge and author of the book by the same name. What Latasha has done with Be the Bridge is truly incredible. I know of nobody else right now who is so purposefully and effectively calling Christians to racial justice and reconciliation.
I expect the Zoom call to fill up quick, so I’d recommend registering today!
The next recommendation for Rediscipling the White Church comes from David Fitch.
Let us not come up with more white solutions to the problems of white Christianity in the United States. Instead let us all follow a discipleship that shapes us beyond segregation, racial habits, and other cultural captivities to a new way of being . . . a way of being we call church. Allow David Swanson to lead us to the ‘uncomfortable truth’ that can free us to a whole new world of embodied solidarity as Christians of all colors. Read Rediscipling the White Church and awaken to discover Jesus at the center of a flourishing that includes all people in the Kingdom of God.
David’s work on mutual submission was really helpful in my chapter about how Holy Communion can be reimagined as a discipleship practice to lead white Christians toward solidarity. Thanks Fitch!