How do we begin to deal with the anger and hurt - perhaps even trauma - our black brothers and sisters may be feeling right now? How are we able to encourage hearts and friendships as we experience a brutally painful racial divide?
As people of all races hurt alongside our black friends, how is it possible – specifically for a white person – to fully understand the emotions our black brothers and sisters are experiencing? How can we proceed in a way that brings hope and healing?
When in divisive situations, this phrase has always guided me: Empathy is the pathway to progress. When we feel empathy, we understand and share the feelings of another. In order to share the feelings of another, we befriend another. We begin to cultivate empathy for our black brothers and sisters by making friends who have a different skin hue. We sit with our friends and talk with them. And we listen.
We ask about their experience of living in America. We learn how they may have been socially profiled. Discriminated against. Treated unfairly. And we mourn with them – we mourn where they mourn (Romans 12:15).
As followers of Jesus, we are all children of God. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). In Christ’s family, no division exists. We are all equal in his sight.
Jesus came to break down the “dividing wall of hostility” that separates the races (Ephesians 2:14). He commanded us to love our neighbors – our neighbors of all skin hues (Mark 12:31). Christ brought us together through his death on the Cross. He treated everyone as equals. Everyone. Always.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only answer to the question of how to change a human heart. A heart changed by the power of grace seeks to understand, to empathize with another.
After all, empathy is the pathway to progress.