[I am so pleased to be able to host my friend Adriana Kassner Cunningham today. She writes about life and literature and faith at Classical Quest, a blog well worth your time. Her post here is part two of a short series on race and the kingdom of God. I wrote part one and posted it yesterday.]
All of us make mistakes . . . Sometimes intentionally, most of the time unintentionally. All of us have much to learn from one another. All of us can take away a new level of awareness through what we walk through and experience. ~Vivian Mabuni, A Place of Abundance
My husband Joe is a masonry contractor. A few months ago he was building a parking garage in our city. At lunch time he and his brick mason walked across the street to a small corner store. The proprietor was a black man of late middle age. He nodded in greeting to these two white men as they entered.
“I honestly just wanted to be friendly to the guy,” Joe told me later. “I tried to start a conversation. I noticed that he was playing heavy metal in the place. I thought that was odd, so I said, ‘This don’t sound like your kind of music!’”
A shadow passed over the man’s face. Joe’s brick mason cringed and looked away.
“Now, why would you say that?” asked the shop owner.
Like many cities in the United States, our city has a long history of racial tension. Blacks and whites often view each other with suspicion. On both sides, there is fear. Misunderstandings are common; old wounds run deep.
“I realized immediately that I had stereotyped the guy.” Joe told me. “I felt like such a dummy. I went ahead and bought a sandwich. It was awkward.”
A few days later I offered to pack Joe’s lunch as he prepared to leave for work. “No need,” he said. “I think I’ll buy lunch from that shop across from the job site again.”
. . . God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. (Acts 10:34-35)
The second time Joe entered the store, the owner looked surprised. Joe got right to the point: “I need to apologize to you. I stereotyped you the other day when I made that comment about the heavy metal music. I’m sorry.”
“What? Stereotyped me? I stereotyped you!” said the man as he set to work making Joe’s lunch.“I’m glad you came back because it’s been on my heart. Before you came in that day, I was listening to gospel music, but when I saw you two white boys walk in, I switched the station to heavy metal!”
He handed Joe a sandwich.
“You know the Lord?” asked Joe.
“Yeah — Let me show you something.” From behind the counter he held up his Bible. “I’m preparing for a Bible study tonight.”
In that moment Joe and the shop owner recognized Christ in each other. They smiled, then laughed! As Joe’s bewildered brick mason stood to the side scratching his head over what had just occurred, Joe and the shop owner shook hands. They bade each other farewell, exchanging mutual blessings as brothers in the Lord.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)
Have you ever experienced a moment of racial reconciliation? Please share in the comments!