“Because of the System we live in, white people are all complicit with racism and we must help our kids contend with this even while we equip them with lots of explanations about concepts like inherited privilege, equity in contrast to equality, and the analogy of racism as a moving sidewalk!”
— Jennifer Harvey in Raising White Kids: Bringing up Children in a Racially Unjust America
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who likes at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”
— James 1:22-24
I think that at the center of our inability to work against the problems that face the Church in a meaningful way is a misunderstanding about what the Word of God is. Many of us have been taught that the only thing that is inspired by God is the direct reading of the Bible, and this is only a part truth. The beginning of John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus is the “Word” of God. We believe that the Word of God is written in the Bible, but we don’t hold all words with the same weight. The term “Word” is translated from the Greek Logos, which also means “the wisdom and logic” of God.**
So when we say that we want to teach our children the “word” of God, we should mean that we want to teach them the logic and wisdom of God, to teach them to follow Jesus, and to also know the Bible. If we take seriously that God’s Wisdom is deeper than the literal meaning of scripture, it helps us to pass this on to our children. If we take seriously that God’s Logic can work even outside of the Church, then we are better able to teach our children about the problems the world faces, knowing that God is not waiting for the Church, in order to work justly. If we follow the Word of God, into the places of brokenness, we will find where it is already at work, and we can give language to the people who are already grasping at the Divine Presence they cannot name.
As we begin to think about families this week, I think it is important to consider how we think about the Word of God, because this defines whether or not we are able to see God at work in family systems that grapple with things like racism, equity, and inherited privilege.
We often see literal stories verses quoted, when we think of working for immigrant justice. These are stories of Jesus as an immigrant, of God’s people as immigrants, and commands to welcome immigrants. But we should also think of the Word of God as a whole, when considering families — both our own and immigrant families. The Word of God surrounds, challenges, and loves all of us in a way that goes beyond the systems we live in.
If we are going to follow the Word of God, to love our immigrant neighbors, we need to allow it to show us where the systems we live in are broken. God is able to cross the borders of our sinfulness, but we only cross them when we admit them and work against them. I pray that God’s Word will help us understand what is broken, in which we live, so we can repent and work against it. I hope this, for the sake of the children — all God’s children.
Prayer: O Love that will not let me go; work your wonders within me. O Love that grasps our neighbors, help us be close to those whom else you hold. O Love that call us all children, help us to stop ignoring our brothers and sisters. Amen.
**In Methodism, we find our beliefs in the Word of God from the Scripture, Christian Tradition, our experience, and our ability to reason.