Several months ago, while studying in New Orleans, I established a morning prayer routine. As I think about it, it was quite simple. The alarm would go off at 4:30 AM, I would angrily shout “ALEXA STOP,” and then I would lay there for another 5 minutes thinking about the remainder of the day. Eventually, I arose and began my morning prayer in a state of indifference. Not the type of indifference that suggested I didn’t care, just a recognition that I had no idea how God planned to use me to make a difference in a fractured world.
I imagine in a very similar way that people who unknowingly spread division abide by the same routine. Their alarm clocks go off at 4:30 AM, they lay there for another 5 minutes thinking about the remainder of the day. Eventually, they rise, get dressed, and head off. As they move about the day, perhaps in a haphazard fashion, with that same state of indifference they commit and contribute to the oppression of marginalized people.
As I reflect on the two starts of the day, I’m reminded of Jeremiah, a prophet, told to share God’s desire for man to turn away from his wicked ways and return to his early covenantal loyalty to Yahweh. As Jeremiah spreads the message, he’s surprised by the resistance of his friends. Jeremiah says, “‘there is fear on every side! Report,’ they say, ‘and we will report it!’ All my acquaintances watched for my stumbling, saying, ‘perhaps he can be induced; then we will prevail against him, and we will take our revenge on him.’”As Christians, we must remember that our behaviors, words, and actions are always on display. Those who call themselves friends may be waiting for us to misstep so they can report our hypocrisy. Some may even be hoping that the cognitive dissonance created by the division in our country will be enough to get us to question the goodness of God. Rather than question God, I encourage you to look inward. Are you creating division? Do your family members, friends, and colleagues feel valued? Do you embrace differences? Do you hold people accountable for racist or homophobic slurs? When you encounter people from the LGBTQ+ community do they feel seen and heard?
If the response to any of these questions was no, I encourage you to get to know the unconditional love of Christ more intimately. An encounter with you may be the reason someone draws closer or pushes away the thought of knowing Jesus. An encounter with someone who is different may create unspeakable joy in your life. There are enough racist, sexist, chauvinist, and homophobic people in the world to last us a lifetime. During Lent, as a Christian, I encourage you to be who you say you are, savor chocolate, and spend more time aligning your actions and words with the desires of God’s heart.
- Instead of giving up chocolate during Lent, how can you better align your actions and words with the desires of God’s heart?
- How do your days start—with indifference, determination, hope, despair, something else? What can you do to start your day intentionally?
Dr. Richardson-Phillips has 20 years of diversity, equity, and inclusion experience in higher education and corporate America. She currently serves as the vice president of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Saint Ignatius High School (Cleveland) where she is responsible for DEI strategic planning and cultural competence.