But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up in love.-Ephesians 4:15-16
As part of our weekly meeting in recent weeks, Pastor Kim, Dawn and myself have been reading together Kerry Connelly's Good White Racist?. It is a thought-provoking book that challenges good people to consider their role in supporting or building up a system founded upon and maintained, in large part, by white privilege. I'm guessing that last sentence has already triggered a response in some who are reading today's blog, and that's okay. Worry not. I won't be expounding on Connelly's book. At least not today. But let me be clear, I do believe that people can be good and racist, often acknowledging the former and completely unaware of the latter.
Breathe in. Hold. Breath out. It's going to be okay! In her book, Connelly speaks of "The Four D's" and how they might represent a response to difficult conversations. Her "Four D's" brought to mind for me another D, diminish. How might we, knowingly or unknowingly, diminish the experiences of others to lift up our own? How might we feel our own experiences have been diminished by others?
The Apostle Paul talks often about the building up the saints/community of believers in his letters, which is synonymous with the building up the kin(g)dom of heaven. There is true 'building up' work; and there is work that gives the illusion of 'building up.'
When have you found yourself participating in true 'building up' work? Or work that gives the illusion of 'building up'?
Work that gives the illusion of building up relies not on the building up of ourselves and others. It gives the illusion of building one up by pressing the other down, elevating one's experience by diminishing the other's. This is too often the type of work the world participates in, relying on the myth of scarcity and the language of power. This false 'building up' work pits individuals and nations against each other, and convinces us that the only way to build one up is to press another down. This is the type of work that tries to convince us that either #BlackLivesMatter OR #BlueLivesMatter. It does not leave space for a world in which both Black and Blue lives matter. This is the type of work that tells us that we either Republican or Democrat. We cannot share beliefs with Republicans andDemocrats. This type of work, coupled with misplaced power, demands loyalty to one or the other.
What examples can you think of that give the illusion of 'building up'?
True 'building up' work, the kind Paul and every other faithful apostle, disciple, saint talks about has to do with elevating other over self, knowing that we, too, will be lifted up by God's grace and the work of the faithful community. True building up work lives in the truth that to elevate one is not to diminish the other. God is not about diminishing, but illuminating! It is all about rising up together!
What examples can you think of that are true 'building up' work? What 'building up' work would you like to do alongside FPCV?
'Building up' work is the kind of work that happens when we commit ourselves to being a Matthew 25 church. 'Building up' work is the kind that invites the voices and experiences of all God's people to be heard and acknowledged. 'Building up' work is dirty, challenging, hard, beautiful, life-giving, kin(g)dom type work. 'Building up' work is precisely what FPCV is called to do. So let's continue to roll up our sleeves together and do some good 'building up' work!