Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.~Psalm 107:2 ESV
A few months ago, in frustration and disappointment to the church’s reaction to racial unrest; I wrote nearly a fifteen-thousand-word article on the topic. I intended to follow with one called “Black Enough,” detailing the reasons I was qualified to speak on the topic of race. It would also answer those who would seek to discredit me because I shared the uncomfortable truth regarding a dicey topic.
After some thought, I realized that the real reason I am qualified to speak on race has less to do with what I’ve suffered related to skin color, and more on what I have endured related to the condition of my heart.
My brown skin aside, I’m “black enough” to speak on racial issues, or any other topic, because I once walked in total darkness in all areas of life. I’ve experienced that humans are selfishly motivated. Unless divinely influenced, man will never do right by man, and I am no exception. It was the truth of God alone that changed me. His transformation of my heart continues to this day.
This is the reason I now seek to give the homeless new clothes, not just my old ones. It’s the reason I give my family the choice cut of meat, and not save it for my plate. It’s the reason I buy an item I damage at the store, and not expect the store owner to eat the cost. It’s the reason I return items to the rack or the cart to its place.
This list of kind deeds can go on endlessly, and though these are seemingly little actions, each deed esteems others greater than me. This is a life-altering shift. I know who I was before, and I’m different now. There is a new law written on my heart that inspires me to love and to do good works.
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the Prophets.”~Matthew 22:37-40 NKJV
As the redeemed of the Lord, we can be outraged by sin, but we must always remember that all sin is offensive to a Holy God. And racism, though vile, is no greater than a heart that exalts its economic, financial, educational, status above another, or any other position. Even the “small things,” whether it’s lying, envy, gossiping, and so on—none of those things promote the wellbeing of another human. We cannot allow our outrage over any sin to make us hypocrites, and deniers of the awesome grace of God. The same perfect blood was needed and shed for all.
We, the blood-bought, have been saved from a multitude of iniquities. All of them rooted in pride, and this produces inequities. Whether we are against one person or an entire group, we discriminately chose ourselves until Christ rescued us from that lifeless state. I refuse to undermine the sacrifice and grace of Jesus by pretending that I could be enough. Only the love of God awakens us.
I know who I was before, and I’m different now. There is a new law written on my heart that inspires me to love and to do good works.~Shanda Neighbors, Contributing Author to Love Knots: Stories of Faith, Family, and Friendships
And so, as the unrest continues in the streets, and people see my color and urge me to fight against “social injustice,” I choose to fight for something more. Love. I redirect my heart and focus towards the only God who gives joy in the midst of chaos. I follow the one who heals the outcast, every man, woman, and child, the racially marginalized the poor, weak, and lowly.I redirect my heart and focus towards the only God who gives joy in the midst of chaos. I follow the one who heals the outcast, every man, woman, and child, the racially marginalized the poor, weak, and lowly. #VineWords… Click To Tweet
My Lord Jesus chose the inequality of earth and gave His life so that all may be free. He didn’t need to take a selfie while doing it or label it a movement with a catchy phrase. He didn’t need to because His love naturally corrects inequality. His passion was not merely “social justice,” but spiritual justice. Spiritual justice is the true healer. It brings genuine power and equality to all. My Savior laid down His life, demonstrating to us that man is more than his social assignment. Unless man addresses his heart condition, he will always descend into unjust behaviors, social, and otherwise.
I find my comfort in Christ Jesus, not in my culture or my color. The issue isn’t whether I’m “black enough” to speak on the one topic assigned to me by the world, but whether in freedom, I’m bold enough to speak the truth of God on any topic, to any power in this world. My credentials are greater than skin tone or earthly affiliations.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where is the boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.~Romans 3:23-27 NKJV
Simply put; I’m sinful enough to know and speak on the transforming power of God’s love. I pray for the strength to never stop speaking, writing, and demonstrating God’s amazing grace. I’m bold enough to be a conduit of my Savior’s grace.
Share how your life is transforming, day by day, because of the grace you’ve experienced at salvation.
Father God, May my allegiance be to You alone. Make me as bold as a lion. Cause me to spread the truth about the depth of Your grace. Teach me to love deeply, so that others know I belong to You. May I be the particular person the world desperately needs for such a time as this.
In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Copyright 2021: Bold Enough: Shanda Neighbors: All Rights Reserved
Meet Our Contributor
Shanda Neighbors’s island upbringing has afforded her the ability to pardon Eve. She too enjoys gardening and picking produce. Her husband eats all she offers him. No questions. She enjoys serving large crowds, but she’s a natural overfeeder. She will supply too much nourishment no matter the crowd size. Food is her love language.
Shanda was born and raised in the Bahamas. This has determined both her internal clock and thermostat. She struggles with being on time and is not trusted to set the temperature anywhere. You can always find her outdoors…over 60s and sunny…probably in a jacket. Anyone who invites her to go skiing hates her. Period.
Shanda is a miraculous work in progress. She credits her family with helping that work along. Chief among them is her husband who has demonstrated the power of love and patience. Outside of Jesus, she has had no greater advocate than her beef-and-potatoes husband. Shanda has two daughters who are her treasures.
Shanda is passionate about truth and the reputation of God. This translates into her speaking and writing. Her goal is to live amazed by the love, glory, power, and goodness of our God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to share His story with as many people as possible.
Shanda is a devotion writer for VineWords: Devotions and More, and a contributing author to Love Knots: Stories of Faith, Family, and Friendships (VineWords Publishing). She is a devotion speaker at Word Weavers Piedmont-Triad, NC, and she is available for speaking engagements. Her long-term goal is to enter the media industry.
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