In a sermon when I say that I know the depth of human depravity because I see the sin in my heart, some people wish I’d go farther and reveal one or two of those sins or temptations. Recently, one curious person asked me bluntly, “So what are the areas you struggle with?” I think he then realized how bold it sounded and backed off, “Maybe you don’t want to say.” Although some people are open books on such things, I admitted I don’t usually share my major vulnerabilities except with my accountability partner on the elder team or my wife.
But even I don’t know about all the sordid pools in my life. Sometimes, the Spirit of God gloriously and horrifically exposes them. Like He did 2 weeks ago. Growing up, my family occasionally went camping…, maybe 5 times. On the other hand, my wife’s family were avid campers and those memories remain highlights of her childhood. When we got married we bought a tent and gear and became a camping family too. Sort of. I never quite had Betty’s passion for exchanging our comfy home for a sleeping bag, humidity, rain, mud, mosquitoes and treks to the rest rooms at a distance. But we went occasionally and did build family memories. Since I’ve been a pastor, it’s become even more difficult because weekends are pretty much out. But we have our second popup and just returned from a wonderful week in nature with the grandchildren.
Where God pulled out His scalpel and after cutting through my smug confidence, produced some prejudice I was embarrassed to see. Several days after we set up camp, two large extended families from different ethnic groups (which shall remain unidentified) arrived at the campground. I felt some discomfort when I saw them. After sensing this several times, I started to pay greater attention to my reaction when I saw them and concluded, “I believe I resent their presence”. My next step (honestly, the thought process wasn’t this neat and tidy but I’m summarizing) was to ponder why I was resentful. After some consideration, I realized that in my 50 years of camping , usually the only folks at the campgrounds we stayed at were white; and were almost always “Indigenous Americans” (no, not from groups like the Sioux, Blackfeet, or Comanche nations!). What I mean is that in campground rest rooms over the years, I was accustomed to only bumping into people who spoke English exclusively, who did so without an accent, who wore bathing suits to the pool instead of dresses, whose customs were “mainstream America”. In other words, deep down I didn’t feel these people belonged in an American campground.
This ugly discovery was all stirred up again when I read a Noah Filipiak blog post How America’s Past Breeds Racial Profiling Today [http://www.cutthereligiouscheese.com/author/admin/]. In it he posts this video which offers disturbing evidence that bigotry is still mainstream in white America. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ABRlWybBqM. I would have believed that I’m above that. Apparently not.
I recently completed the most incredible course I’ve ever taken: Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. It’s about God’s global plan to call out a people for Himself from every tribe, tongue and and nation. As Betty and I finished this course we were filled with a breathtakingly renewed vision of God’s love for all people groups–and His hope that we will love them too.
Apparently, except at the campground. Father forgive me.
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