JR. Forasteros - October 8, 2017


Empathy for the Devil

We tend to end up in echo chambers, surrounded by people who look and think a lot like us. The danger of this is that we don’t learn how to be challenged. The spiritual consequence is that we end up missing God – imagining God in our own image rather than learning to let God challenge us. Judas illustrates the reason we need to learn to be vulnerable, to open ourselves to strange friendships.

From Series: "Empathy for the Devil"

We don't give the people we consider villains a second thought. They were born rotten, destined for evil from day one. But if we take another look at some of the most infamous villains of all time, we may find they're more human than we thought. We may see ourselves in their reflection. We might find we're walking the path of villainy - and once we see that, we can turn toward God's life!

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In 2008, a group of the most prominent and influential white supremacists in the US met at a secret conference to plan how to “take back America”. One of the keynote addresses was given by 19-year old Derek Black, who hosted his own radio show and had just launched a white supremacy website for children. Derek’s father started the oldest and most popular white supremacist website and his mother was once married to David Duke – one of the most infamous racists in America. In fact, David Duke is Derek Black’s godfather. Needless to say, Derek was a pretty big deal at this conference. He was introduced as the leading light of the movement.

My suspicion is that just hearing a little bit of Derek’s story is enough to make your skin crawl. Since the sort of racism Derek and his movement advocate includes a version of Christianity that explicitly embraces white supremacy, I imagine that only further offends most of us gathered here for worship.

It’s safe to say that Derek is not a person you would want to invite over for a dinner party.

Which is unfortunate because a dinner party is what saved Derek Black’s life. Derek Black isn’t a white supremacist anymore. And the story of how he found his way out of a life of hate is a story of hope for all of us.

Because if someone like Derek Black, the leading light of the white supremacist movement, can be saved by a dinner party, then surely there is hope for all of us to be rescued from our prejudices, our blind spots, our toxic and false beliefs.

This isn’t about how we can be nice to white supremacists.

This is about how we can recognize the Derek Black in ourselves, and how we find freedom from and victory over those hateful parts of ourselves when we choose to open ourselves to that which scares us. Preferably over a meal.

If we can learn to listen to those we normally see with contempt, we can learn to see the God who chose to die for us… and invites us to imitate him.

Join us Sunday as we learn how choosing vulnerability helps us see who God really is.

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