I think we can all agree that our country seems to be heading down an unhealthy path. The division in our country based on economic issues, racial issues, social issues, etc. have created a culture that judges others without looking for a clear explanation from a different point of view. Andy Stanley says:

The further away you are from a problem, the simpler it seems. But the closer you get, the more complex it gets.

A few months ago I was positive that I had a real understanding of the racial issues that divided our country. I was convinced I had an understanding that seemed simple and logical and I couldn’t figure out why so many people didn’t see the same things I did. Then I was in a meeting with a lady that I absolutely love that is in an interracial marriage. This lady has a heart of gold and her family leads a life of service and sacrifice for their community that amazes me. This meeting was just after one of the police shootings that had lead to violent protest in another state. She started explaining to me the fear she lives in for her family. Not because she personally distrust police, but because she lives in a world that has an entire different point of view than I have ever experienced.

After talking to her my understanding became different. I know longer had simple answers because now I felt closer to the situation. A person I loved and respected was showing me another point of view that made things much less cut and dry. My respect and admiration for the police has not been diminished, but my understanding of the difficulties of being an African American became clearer. To state in simply…the situation became more complex.

As some of you know I am the youth pastor at Crossroads Christian Church here in Richmond. I frequently tell the teens that to have a relationship with God you must spend time with God. It seems simple to understand, but without spending time with a person and getting to know their point of view on things you can’t develop a deep relationship that can lead to a change in your life or the other persons.  This works the same with God as it does with other people. If we want to understand why things happen the way they do or why people feel the way they do we need to have conversations with them. When those conversations lead to break-thru we now have a relationship that leads to healing and lasting change.

I truly believe relationships are the only way to change the direction that our country is headed. Sitting right here in Richmond it seems impossible to fix a national problem, but we can start to work on local problems. We can start to build relationships right here in Richmond. We can start to understand life from a different perspective ourselves that will in turn help us see the complexity of an issue as opposed to passing judgement with our simple solution.

Next Sunday Crossroads has decided to try and start building those relationships. During our normal service time at 10:00am we are doing things a little different. We are hosting a panel that will involve people from different backgrounds, races and most importantly points of view. I hope you will come join us to see if the conversation can make simple judgement become understanding of the complexity of a terrible situation. We certainly won’t change the world but maybe if Richmond can become Undivided then it can start to spread from here.

If you have any questions about Crossroads or this panel feel free to contact me.