3 things we need from Jesus to overcome white fragility

The pursuit of racial justice requires selflessness. Following in the way of Jesus means amplifying the voices of Black people and choosing to receive correction with humility and responsiveness. But this is impossible to do when the voices of shame and fear inside of us are screaming to be heard. Instead of leading out of our strengths and giving our whole selves to seeking God’s justice, we spend all our energy trying to rid ourselves of these uncomfortable emotions, often with unending defensiveness.

If we want to be more effective in our justice work, we must be more effective in our internal work with Jesus.

Here are three things we need from Jesus daily in order to move past our internal defensiveness and into loving action:

  1. Affirmation. Our constant need for people to tell us that “not all white people are bad” comes from a deep depravation of affirmation from Jesus. This is not an affirmation based on our works but an affirmation of our identity. We need to start our day remembering that Jesus calls us beloved before we will ever be able to receive correction or be led into repentance.
  2. Focus. If we are trying at all to listen to our friends of Color, we will realize that they are offering us multiple ways to become advocates and allies. If we try to do everything, it quickly gets overwhelming. But Jesus offers us focus. We need to ask Jesus every day, “What are you calling me to today? How do you want me to choose into suffering today?” Without hearing this from Jesus, we will be paralyzed and end up doing nothing at all.
  3. Slowing. Though racial justice is an urgent matter, often our hearts can get caught up in the rapid pace of social media and our empathy cannot keep up. Jesus gives us an ability to slow down enough to feel deeply and to think wisely. This internal slowing is the very thing we need to move more urgently towards justice.

Jesus is the only one who can provide these things for us. It is not on our Black friends to give us these things. Nobody but Jesus will be able to speak these truths deeply enough into our souls so that we can turn from defensiveness and be catalyzed into action.

“If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

Photo by Stefano Zocca on Unsplash

Published by K.Aalseth

Kelly J. Aalseth is the Coordinator for Leadership Development for InterVarsity in Greater Los Angeles. She is an author, coach, preacher, and trainer.

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