Faithfulness and Responsibility

It took me a long time to learn that God didn’t feel guilty when he made me white.

 I’m thankful the issue of faithfulness and white guilt has been raised because many white Covenant students struggle with the same feelings of guilt and inadequacy. I will attempt to address some of the issues raised in the article “White Guilt” regarding our response to our white guilt. Hopefully, we can enter into a loving conversation with each other that brings us all to a better understanding of what it means to be faithful, white, Covenant College students.

It is true that “You are responsible to God, not to your race.” We are all sinners, we are all guilty, and we are all in desperate need of God’s grace. However, God’s unmerited grace is not simply a brushing off of our sin but a forgiveness granted to us by his own sacrifice. We see God’s grace most fully in his forgiveness of our sin, not in ignoring our sin. 

Unfortunately, many of us at Covenant College are complicit in a system that has continued to oppress people of color for centuries. We may not have created the system, but we benefit from it every day. We have access to better schools, better job opportunities, and are not routinely discriminated against based on our skin color. You don’t have to look very far to see this—there is a reason Covenant is predominantly white, and it’s not because people of color don’t love Jesus or that they’re all poor. 

Faithfulness requires instead of dwelling on our guilt recognizing that we have been given a unique opportunity to serve others because of our privilege. God has called us to “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-10).  

If you ask a Comm Dev or Bible major, they wouldn’t tell you that you need to pursue either of those fields to serve others faithfully for the Lord. Comm Dev and Biblical Studies are not only fields of study but mindsets by which we approach any field we choose to go into. Through our study we learn how we can faithfully promote Christ’s ongoing work of redemption in this world, affirm the imago dei in all people that we work with, and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. 

What sets Covenant apart from any other secular school is that we learn how to work in the fields of business, biology, economics, and any other field as Christians. Learning how to be a faithful Christian in the workplace isn’t just for Comm Dev and Bible majors—it’s for all of us.  

Is faithfulness glory? Faithfulness brings glory to God, but it is mundane, difficult, and requires dying to self daily. It requires commitment to both our “big c” and “little c” callings. Our little c calling is to be students right now, but our big c calling is always to follow Christ’s will for us and be his ambassadors here on earth. We don’t stop serving others in college just because we need to study. This is not to diminish the value of the work that we are doing here at college, but to realize that we are also called to more than this. Faithfully stewarding the education we are being given requires us not to serve ourselves but others.

Despite our best efforts to be faithful, we are guaranteed to fall short. When we do fail, we are called to repentance - both personal and corporate (2 Chronicles 7:14). Faithfulness calls us to turn to God and repent as a body of believers. Personal repentance is important, but unless the white evangelical church in America learns to corporately repent, we will always struggle with our inability to lament and mourn with others. 

Our individualism has destroyed our ability to comprehend the suffering of others caused by corporate sin and systemic injustice. Therefore, the sense of gratitude that drives us needs to be both personal and corporate. The fact that the white evangelical church in America functions as a collection of beings instead of a body diminishes our understanding of Christ’s work in our lives, the lives of others, and how we are called to respond faithfully to Christ’s work as a church.

Lament and mourning are integral pieces of faithfulness. In order to properly lament, we must recognize both our corporate and personal sin and God’s abundant mercy towards us. The Holy Spirit’s work in us allows us to recognize both of these factors and lead us to repentance, freeing us to serve others faithfully with our gifts and resources as Christ has called us to do. The identity we find in Christ is that we are his bride, the Church. Pain in one part of the body affects the ability of the rest of the body to function. Faithful obedience to Christ’s call involves unity as the Church, something that will never be accomplished if we are blindly causing the other to suffer.