But the reverse isn't true. A little bit of a good thing can actually be a bad thing.
I've been thinking about this recently as I've thought about God, faith, and racial reconciliation. Research has shown that, for white evangelicals, having one black friend can actually make it harder for them to listen to the experiences of black people. That one friend either becomes the exception or the rule and gives the white person license to believe whatever they want to believe about race, racism, and reconciliation.
We've been talking about racial reconciliation a bit over the last year in InterVarsity and at the church where I work. Those conversations have been good. Hard. Painful. Thought-provoking. But one the whole, good.
What will happen if InterVarsity or Chatham Church pump the brakes on these conversations? Now that we've gone from zero to one we run the risk of losing all of our progress.
Here are possible conversations:
- We tried and it didn't work.
- We've already come a long way.
- We've done all we can right now.
- Look, we have a person of color in a significant position.
- Let's wait until things are a little less hectic.
If you're going to pump the brakes, it would have been better to not even have started. Once you've started, you have to keep going. Slowly is fine. Subversively and behind the scenes is okay too. But we can't just give up.
I have significant concerns about both InterVarsity's and Chatham Church's ability to sustain the racial reconciliation conversation. But I also have tremendous faith and hope. The Lord is building a multiethnic kingdom to testify to the world that his good news is true, powerful, and meaningful. He will not let us give up without a fight.
Blessed is the community that struggles and submits to the Lord.