Sue Sweeney - April 7, 2019

When to Speak Up


What do you do when you hear someone tell a racist joke? Speaking up is hard - it makes us all feel awkward. And it's even worse to be called out. Why don't we just keep to ourselves? Paul's confrontation with Peter in Antioch illustrates why we have to speak up: God calls us all to be one, and we can't be one until we have justice. So what does that look like?

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So who likes arguing with their neighbors on the Next Door app on your phone? Anyone? It’s like a social media for just people who live in your neighborhood or community.

Recently, a local parent posed a question about a report sent home from their son’s school called the “School Report Card.” Their concern was the report showing percentages of students in their son’s school broken down by race or ethnic group. Their question was, and I quote, “What is about that?”

It’s a reasonable question. I’m very familiar with these types of reports because of my job. I know that the “School Report Card’ is put out by the Texas Education Agency, or TEA, which is organization that oversees legislation regarding schools across the state. Schools are required, by Texas state law, to distribute this report to parents.

A lot of people responded to this person’s post, noting their disbelief that a school would even publish this information, as if pointing out that there were differences in academic achievement among ethnic groups was somehow making issues of racism in our society worse.

I gave, what I thought, based on my 14-year career working in public schools in Texas, a reasonable response to this person’s post. I didn’t type this exactly, but in part, I explained this reporting is necessary because achievement gaps still exist between white and non-white groups of students. White students consistently outperform non-white students across the state on achievement tests. That is a fact. That is what we mean by the phrase “achievement gap.”

Does this fact make you uncomfortable? Good, it should. Just because it makes you uncomfortable, doesn’t make the fact any less true.

Talking about racial injustice is awkward, but it is essential to understanding and spreading the Good News of Jesus.

It is central to the truth of the Gospel. We’re going to take a look at a story in the book of Galatians today of an incident between Peter and Paul, two stalwarts of the early Christian church, who had a public discussion about what we would consider today to be ethnic and cultural differences. This conversation surely made everyone involved very uncomfortable…even a little awkward. But, even though talking about it made people uncomfortable, it was a conversation that was necessary.

So, I know that sounds intense, but don’t worry! The early Christian church in the Bible shows us that awkwardness isn’t always so bad. Actually, it can help us become the people God intended us to be. It might be a little awkward at first, but this is our “growing edge.”

This is the process of becoming more like the people God intended us to be.

Join us Sunday as we learn how to speak up in the face of injustice.

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