If Ethnocentric Oppression Exists in America, how should pastors (and all American disciple-makers) disciple their people?
I was asked:
If ethnocentric oppression against African Americans exists today, how should Pastors disciple their people? I think most agree that overt hatred and prejudice of others is sinful, and have no problem condemning it as such, but are there more subtle personal sins that should be pointed out and condemned? How does one disciple people to confront structural issues? Is it as simple as discipling people to acknowledge that it exists and to extend sympathy to those who are effected by it? Or must we disciple them to support political/legal measures that aim at addressing them similar to how we might disciple people to support a legal end to abortion?
Good to hear from you, brother!
You asked: "Is it as simple as discipling people to acknowledge that it exists and to extend sympathy to those who are effected by it? Or must we disciple them to support political/legal measures that aim at addressing them similar to how we might disciple people to support a legal end to abortion?"
The first one: Disciple people to see it and they will inevitably have Christian compassion according their more accurate understanding of the situation.
It's that simple. When you start to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12.31) and your love grows more and more in discernment (Phil 1.9) it will lead to a diverse number of responses and actions in line with Christian love. Just look at how Christians obediently love their unborn neighbors. As a pastor, we disciple our people to love (1 Tim 1.5) praying that they grow in biblical discernment how to love (Phil 1.9-11) and we equip the members of the body as they "do the work of ministry/serving" (Eph 4.11-12).
It's similar to calling/discipling my people to gospelize those who are not Christian. I don't say, you must participate in the Saturday morning the door-knocking ministry or you must share the gospel on your Wednesday lunch break. The call is general. The application is diverse and multifaceted. Who knows, God may use the Christians to temporarily change the society? Either way, we love our neighbors/society in general be seeking to relieve suffering and we love with laser focus on relieving our neighbors of eternal suffering.
Great question, brother!